Sunday, March 8, 2009

Comprehending the US healthcare budget

A classmate steered me to PageTutor, a website for website developers. It happens to have a great illustration that helps comprehend the enormous amounts of money people are talking about these days in bailouts. And healthcare.

Here's a million bucks' worth of $100 bills. (That's 100 packets of 100 bills; each packet is 1/2" thick.)

Here's 100 times as much - a million hundred-dollar bills, $100 million:

Ten of those - a billion:

And a thousand of those - a trillion. Check out the little dude, who's now in the bottom left corner:

And, ladies and gents, the US healthcare spend for 2008 was estimated to be 2.4 times that much. And growing.

This helps understand what I was talking about when I wrote A Thousand Points of Pain, about how much money is at stake in this industry. The problem is that when we try to trim costs, there's going to be a LOT of money at stake. A lot. And right wrong or otherwise, when we try to cut something out, somebody's going to hurt. And there will be resistance.

So as I said in that post, I'm not waiting for the system to reform itself: I think we need to get busy at building our own solutions. The system may well improve, which is fine, but I ain't waitin' for it.

(btw, that's a big part of why I decided to go ahead with Google Health and HealthVault, as I wrote last month. That has turned out to be a bumpy road... I'll be writing about that soon.)


  1. I can give you another way to get an idea how big a billion is. Last year I rode a bicycle across the country, about 3000 miles in 4 weeks. Every time I rode 3 miles I had completed another 1/1000 of the trip. There are about 16,000 feet in 3 miles, so every 16 feet represented 1/1000000, (1 millionth) of the trip. There are 192 inches in 16 feet so every fifth of an inch I rode was 1/1000000000 (1 billionth) of the trip.

    On a flat road on pedal stoke moves you about 25 feet or more that 1 millionth of the distance across the country.

  2. Wow: I checked the math, and that's right. "Mind-boggling," Ginny says.

    1/5" is about 1/2cm, and that's a billionth of the US.

    And a trillionth is a thousand times smaller than that. Well done.

  3. The U.S. Health Care: Anarchy And Apathy

    What follows are believed to be facts that are believed to exist regarding the present U.S. Health Care System. This may be why about 80 percent of U.S. citizens understandably want our health care system overhauled desperately due to the inadequate health care they receive and access:

    The U.S. is ranked rather low related to life expectancy and infant mortality.

    However, the U.S. is ranked number one in the world for spending the most for health care- as well as being number one for those with chronic diseases.

    About 125 million people have such diseases. This is about 70 percent of the Medicare budget that is spent treating these terrible illnesses.

    Health Care costs are now well over 2 trillion dollars of our gross domestic product. This is three times the amount nearly 20 years ago- and 8 times the amount it was about 30 years ago.

    Most is spent with medical institutions, as far as health expenditures are concerned.

    About a third of that amount is nothing more than administrative toxic waste that does not involve the restoration of the health of others. This illustrates how absurd the U.S. Health Care System is presently.

    Nearly 7000 dollars is spent on every citizen for health care every year, and that, too, is more than anyone else in the world.

    We have around 50 million citizens without any health insurance, which may cause about 20 thousand deaths per year.

    This includes millions of children without health care, which is added to the planned or implemented cuts in the government SCHIP program for children, which alone covers about 7 million kids.

    Our children.

    Nearly half of the states in the U.S. are planning on or have made cuts to Medicaid, which covers about 60 million people, and those on Medicaid are in need of this coverage is largely due to unemployment.

    With these Medicaid cuts, over a million people will lose their health care coverage and benefits to a damaging degree.

    About 70 percent of citizens have some form of health insurance, and the premiums for their insurance have increased nearly 90 percent in the past 8 years.

    About 45 percent of health care is provided by our government- which is predicted to experience a severe financial crisis in the near future with some government health care programs, it has been reported.

    About half of all patients do not receive proper treatment to restore their health, it has been stated. Medical errors desperately need to be reduced as well.

    Most doctors want a single payer health care system, which would save about 400 billion dollars a year- about 20 percent less than what we are paying now.

    The American College of Physicians, second in size only to the American Medical Association, supports a single payer health care system.
    The AMA, historically opposed to a single payer health care system, has close to half of its members in favor of this system.

    Less than a third of all physicians are members of the AMA, according to others.

    Our health care we offer citizens is the present system is sort of a hybrid of a national and private health care system that has obviously mutated to a degree that is incapable of being fully functional due to perhaps copious amounts and levels of individual and legal entities.

    Health Care must be the priority immediately by the new administration and congress.

    Challenges include the 700 billion dollars that have been pledged with the financial bailout that will occur, since the proposed health care plan of the next administration is projected to cost over a trillion dollars within the first year or so of the proposed plan to recalibrate health care for all of us in the U.S.

    Likely, hundreds of billions of dollars that are speculated to be saved with a reform of the country’s health care system.

    Health policy analysts should not be greatly concerned on the health care corporate shareholders who may be affected by this reform of our health care system that is desperately needed.

    It is estimated that the U.S. needs presently tens of thousands more primary care physicians to fully satisfy the necessities of those members of the public health.

    This specialty makes possibly less than 100 thousand dollars annually in income, compared with other physician specialties, yet they are and have been the backbone of the U.S. health care system.

    The American College of Physicians believes that a patient centered national health care workforce policy is needed to address these issues that would ideally restructure the payment policies that exist presently with primary care physicians.

    Further vexing is that it is quite apparent that we have some greedy health care corporations that take advantage of our health care system.

    Over a billion dollars was recovered for Medicare and Medicaid fraud last year through settlements paid to the department of Justice because some organizations who deliberately ripped off taxpayers.

    These are the taxpayers in the U.S. who have a fragmented health care system with substantial components and different levels of government- composed of several legal entities and individuals, which has resulted in medical anarchy, so it seems.

    Thanks to various corporations infecting our Health Care System in the United States, the following variables sum up this system as it exists today.

    Perhaps the United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676) is the best solution to meet our health care needs as citizens, it appears.

    We would finally have, as with most other countries, a Universal Health Care system that will allow free choice of doctors and hospitals, potentially, and health care for all completely.

    It should and likely will be funded by a combination of payroll taxes and general tax revenue which is realistically possible.

    Because the following seems to be in need of repair regarding the U.S. Health Care System:

    Access- citizens do not have the right or ability to make use of this system as we should.

    Efficiency- this system strives on creating much waste and expense as it possibly can.

    Quality- the standard of excellence we deserve as citizens with our health care is missing in action.

    Sustainability- We as citizens cannot continue to keep our health care system in as it is designed at this time- as it exists today.

    Dan Abshear

  4. With various health care reform bills floating around both the House and the Senate, President Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops to get the votes that the bill needs, which is good news for the public option. President Obama continues to rally behind health care reform. I am really concerned that the fiasco of this reform may make Obama a one-term president.


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