I’ve been listening to some of the campaign speech summaries recently, both on the Republican and Democratic sides. A common theme is a stagnant middle class with shrinking jobs and a growing wage gap compared to the wealthiest few percent of Americans. The politician’s silence on a key set of facts is notable.
In 2011, the Rand Corporation published a study estimating that if healthcare costs had grown at the general inflation rate since 1999, workers would have about $5000 more income by 2009. The authors estimated that 79% of household income growth was siphoned off into the healthcare industry. Similarly, Dr. Jennifer DeVoe and I estimated a potential $8600 increased yearly income from 1996 to 2010, if health insurance inflation had equaled general inflation.
Will politicians from either party challenge voters to improve their lives by taking on the status quo of the healthcare industry? Will they name expensive cancer treatments, excessive testing, excessive medical technology, unnecessary procedures, and an imbalanced physician workforce as the primary cause of the middle class’s angst?
I’m not holding my breath on this one.
I’m trying to gird myself for 1 ½ years of empty rhetoric from both parties prior to the presidential election. What little talk about healthcare reform will occur will sure consist of statements of wellness, prevention, early detection, and keeping people healthy. All the major healthcare industry funders will surely pressure the campaigns to preach this comforting but meaningless message.
I know this is coming. I’ll try to let these statements just roll off my back. It’s just frustrating and depressing to think about.