We reject, as a nation, the notion that we must mortgage off our futures and our standard of living simply to ensure the health of our loved ones.
Let’s examine a hypothetical, here: say Uncle Sam pays for the medical schooling of every doctor and health specialist in America, so that said doctors and specialists arrive to their first duty station free of any college debts. Would health care costs go down?
Let’s use the University of Virginia as an example. The average cost of tuition can be expected to rise to $55,000 per year pretty soon; the length of the program (for most) is 4 years. So you’re looking at a total bill of around $220,000. Applying the UVa case as a national standard (though in reality, we’d assume that the national average bill would be lower when all universities are factored in the calculation), let us make a further rough assumption: since UVa graduates roughly 130 students every year, and there are approximately 150 medical schools in the United States, about 20,000 new doctors or other medical specialists will graduate every year. Applying UVa’s average tuition to that number (a very good education, indeed), the cost of our proposal to pay the med-school bills of every doctor in America comes out to $4.4 billion per year.
Yup, that’s really it.
But our estimated program cost is really bloated, because the tuition figure from UVa includes non-tuition related items, such as housing and living expenses. The exact number of students and exact number of medical schools would take some seriously meticulous research (hey, I’ll do it if you ask). Not every program is taken into consideration, and I expect that the national average for medical school would be a bit lower than UVa’s (but hey, it is a great school!).
But health care costs should go down, right? Because at that point, doctors are only performing a service that is about as essential as police officers or firemen. A nice, healthy average salary for those professions works out to about $50,000 per year in this country. And wouldn’t that take care of the medical profession’s argument that high health care costs are not merely due to the service they render but also to the pricey training and schooling they receive?
And how much would the nation save, on average? Well, assuming that health care costs would fall according to the amount of overall salary reduction (and we’ll be generous and say that, after our program, doctors will be making an average of $70,000 per year vice the $170,000 they currently make), we would be saving–nationally–$2 billion per year just in direct doctor-related health-care costs. The peripheral costs–prescription drugs chief among them–would predictably experience a noticeable decrease, accordingly. Comparing expenses to benefits (including peripheral benefits) renders this program a wash–it pays for itself, essentially, which is exactly what any responsible government program should do.
Our other option is to raise the average salary of all essential workers (of course, then there’s the question of “who is essential to society?”)–police and fire we’ve already mentioned, but what about construction, safety, teachers, and military? But that wouldn’t make too much business sense…
How would we pay for this? (Even though it technically pays itself off, since you’re essentially saving in expenses what you’d be paying in taxes) Without enacting any new taxes, we could fund this program for 16 years by canceling the unnecessary, porked-up contract for those Cold War-era F-22 Raptors and applying those dollars to our Health, Education, and Medicine for America Act (HEMA).
In the initial years of this program–while we wait for health care costs to reach their desired (much lower) state and work out any initial bugs with the system–this funding strategy would take care of two problems at once: de-porking the enlarged military budget while decreasing medical expenses. There are a few more unnecessary military platforms being porked upon–funding that we could use for HEMA.
See what happens when you actually work on ideas instead of the same old argument of socialism versus capitalism? You may categorically reject HEMA, but at least it got you thinking about health care, right? Please share this with your conservative friends. Let’s make health care for all a national action item.
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