Health care costs are increasing much more rapidly than inflation. Therefore any organization that employs, and pays health insurance, for large numbers of people will also have their costs rise significantly faster than inflation.
So, now let’s use that basic fact to answer a few questions:
- Why has federal entitlement spending ballooned? In part, because the federal government pays the health care costs of tens of millions of veterans, the poor, and the elderly–not to mention hundreds of thousands of of federal employees (not to mention troops).
- Why have the costs of higher education skyrocketed? In part, because universities pay the health care costs of thousands of students, staff, and faculty.
- Why has military spending increased annually, even if you ignore what’s been spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? In part, because the military employs, and provides health care, for about 1.5 million people.
- Why have salaries stagnated for most Americans? In part, because any salary increases they might have had are instead being funneled into rising health care costs.
We cannot solve any of those problems without first solving the problem of health care costs. Raising taxes and cutting discretionary spending won’t solve the long-term budget problems, unless we deal with health care costs. Reforming education won’t lower the cost of attending college, unless we also solve the problem of health care costs. Reforming the military won’t make a huge long-term impact on either efficiency or effectiveness unless we also keep health care costs under control. Redistributing income with the tax code won’t provide substantial relief for Middle America unless we also take steps to limit the growth of health care costs.
Any anyone who tells you differently is probably selling something.
There are liberal solutions to control health care costs and conservative solutions. Some are surely better than others, but we are well past that particular debate. Any solution is better than doing nothing–let’s get health care costs under control first, and then we can deal with any smaller problems created by the fixes that we implemented.