Kellan Wortmann Mr. Bray Honors Government
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so it makes sense it is one of the world leaders in health care expenditures. In 2010 the United State reported a Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, of $17.1 trillion. It also reported spending 17.6% of the GDP on healthcare. That means the US spent almost $2.9 trillion on healthcare alone, which is about $8,233 per capita. Since the US spends so much one may assume that its citizens are very well off in terms of healthcare. To the dismay of many Americans that is not the case. In 2000 the World Health Organization ranked the United States 37th out of 193 countries in terms of who had the best healthcare system. Although there are ways to manipulate the criteria to improve the US's spot, in general the WHO ranking is accepted. Other groups like the National Academic Press and Bloomberg have also given the US a poor ranking, (17th out of 17 and 46th out of 48 respectively). Other countries who spend much less were ranked much higher. France, who spends 11.7% of their GDP on healthcare was ranked first. France spends $3,997 per person on healthcare. If France had as many citizens as the United States it would have spent $262 billion which is far less than how much the US spent.
Looking at these numbers it becomes obvious that although wealthier countries tend to have better healthcare systems, the one's who spend the most are not the best. The question arises, why does the US spend so much? This a complex issue with a complex answer. However there are several main problems.
The first is that there are not enough Americans who have health insurance. In 2010 16.3% of Americans were without insurance. Health insurance is a tricky game. There is a a natural problem with it. Those who need it want it and those who don't, don't. However, in order for insurers to make money there needs to be more money coming in then they are putting out. A health insurer's dream customer is a healthy one who steadily puts money in and rarely takes any out. However, healthy people don't need health insurance as badly as sick people do. When there are too many sick people taking money out of the system then insurers must raise prices. As prices rise, the healthy, who do not use their insurance as much, are no longer willing to pay for the service and drop out causing the price to rise and the cycle to restart. In 2000 44 million Americans were uninsured. In 2010 that number rose to 49 million. On average 500,000 more people every year were without insurance which goes to show that the was problem not being resolved.
Second, insurance companies make it hard for people who need truly need insurance, those with chronic illnesses and preexisting conditions for example, to get it. They also do not
always spend money as efficiently as they could. Many companies set certain limits that make it so the insurance is only good to a certain...