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You can’t go back again (Obamacare edition)

For everyone who just wants their old pre-Obamacare health plan back (at the old price): Sorry, that can’t happen. First, before Obamacare, health plans were going up in price at a rate that averaged 10% per year (so that would make your old plan twice as expensive today as it was back in 2007). Also, your plan back then was cheaper because it had lifetime limits, and wouldn’t take anyone with a pre-existing condition. Or rather, they would take you, but then deny your first major claim based on their belated “discovery” of a pre-existing condition. Really, this was common.

Why are prices going up 10% per year? Because every provider is gaming the system for maximum gain, the public be damned. There are investment funds buying 30-year-old drugs and then jacking the price 300-5,000% – just because they can (see – Epi-Pen). Investors (the only privileged class in capitalism) make returns of 30-100% per year with these health care games, and the rest of us only notice that the premiums keep going up while we never seem to be getting any more health care for the extra money. The whole system is just a giant upward redistribution of money from the masses to the 1%. Health care spending in the US was $3.2 trillion dollars in 2015. Profits for insurance companies takes 5%. Providers profit averages maybe 10%, Pharma has margins between 10 and 60%. Health REIT’s (hospital and medical office landlords) make 20%. Medical services firms (suppliers to the offices and hospitals) average 20%. In all, companies in the health care sector are among the most profitable as compared to other sectors. As much as half of that $3.2 trillion ends up as somebodies profit. Every year. How much did you make off health care last year? And how much did you spend? Start to see the problem now?

Oh, and Pharma profits don’t even count marketing costs, which are in the billions. If you put that in the “waste” category there is even more savings to be had in the area of drugs (which are 1/8 of all health care costs in the US). A system optimized for patient health rather than shareholder returns would not be bribing doctors and marketing to patients. A system of evidence based medicine would cost less and have better outcomes.

If anyone is wondering where these numbers came from, they are estimates based on a hunch and verified with google and information from about a dozen investing websites (investors are voracious consumers of data, and profitability is a key piece of data for potential investors, so it wasn’t hard to find the numbers by sector even ranked companies within sectors). It took about 10 minutes.

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