Letter to the Register Guard
November 22, 2015
by Charlie Swanson, Eugene
Reginald Jensen (RG letters 11/20/15) states that WHO and the OECD, respectively, report U.S. health care costs were 17.1% and 16.4% of GDP in 2013. He then claims the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports health care costs were only 11.4% of GDP in 2013, and explains the discrepancy on WHO and OECD not using GDP.
BEA reports the 2013 annual GDP as $16.4 to $16.9 trillion (first to last quarter), and uses data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for healthcare costs - $2.9 trillion. A little arithmetic yields 17.1% to 17.7% of GDP, with 17.4% being what BEA itself reports. Perhaps this will help Jensen “more fully understand” the data.
His other complaint (wait times) about a single-payer system is just as faulty. A 2014 NY Times article reported on a Commonwealth Fund study which found 26% of Americans waited more than 5 days for an appointment, worse than any OECD country except Canada and Norway, compared to 16% in Britain. From the article, “Americans are more likely to wait for office-based medical appointments that are not good sources of revenue for hospitals and doctors… Patients can get lucrative procedures rapidly, even when there is no urgent medical need.”
With the administrative savings from implementing a unified-payer or single-payer system in Oregon, all residents could get the healthcare they need in a timely manner with less average cost to businesses and individuals.