Isn’t it just barely possible that the reason that Americans have life expectancies after 65 comparable to the French, Germans, Britons, and Canadians that Americans older than 65 are genetically more similar to the French, Germans, Britons, and Canadians than our younger population is? Only about 15% of all Americans over 65 are either black or Hispanic. I think that Harold Meyerson is using misdirection to argue for healthcare reform.
I’m completely in favor of healthcare reform. My opposition to the PPACA, “ObamaCare”, had two bases: a) it was obvious to me that its reform was phony, not the reform that we need and b) the history of healthcare reform in the U. S. is that after a major reform bill is passed a very long period, fifteen to 25 years, goes by before we have the stomach to tackle it again and I didn’t think that we could wait for the outcome of a useless reform to become apparent before reforming healthcare in a productive direction.
I can give you the formula for increasing life expectancies at birth in the U. S. in three words: end gang violence. Easy to write, hard to do.
I’m not as convinced as Mr. Meyerson is that increased spending on healthcare makes us that much healthier. I think lifestyle changes are more important. Said another way, I think that extraordinary spending on the elder sick results in days, weeks, or months of additional vigorous, productive life while healthier lifestyles result in additional months or years of productive life.
What are the implications of lower birthweight babies due to maternal drug or alcohol abuse for the life of these infants after 70? Assuming they make it to 70. That’s a greater problem here, too, as I’ve written before. I would presume that it isn’t nothing and a national health service would do very little about that but would spend a lot of money doing it.
U. S. per capita healthcare spending is twice that of France. We spend a higher proportion of GDP on healthcare and, if anything, we need to spend less. Of itself going to a single-payer system like Germany’s, a system like France’s, or even a full-on national health system like Britain’s won’t cut our spending. Only cutting our spending will cut our spending and until we develop the political will to do that all we will do is wait for the inevitable crash.
Meanwhile, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll tax young blacks and Hispanics who won’t live to 70 to pay for the increasingly pricey healthcare of old, white people.