Skyrocketing health care costs make U.S. employers non-competitive in the global marketplace

Sunday, August 08, 2004
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
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Skyrocketing health insurance costs are heavily impacting employers in the United States. Now, for the first time, medical benefits to employees has become the most expensive benefit paid by employers, according to a new report issued by the Employment Policy Foundation. The cost of health care for employers has jumped 12.4% between 2002 and 2003. That's about 5 times higher than inflation, and it is threatening the competitiveness of American corporations and the private sector. The Foundation also reported that employers spent $331 billion last year for health insurance for employees. That's a 50% increase since 1998. This comes out to an average of $3.80 per hour for each worker who participated in health insurance coverage.

If these numbers aren't alarming to you, they should be. In America today, we're seeing a huge number of jobs moving offshore to countries like India, China, Russia and Mexico. Part of the reason there is so much offshoring going on is because U.S. businesses can no longer remain cost-competitive in the global marketplace due to these burdensome health care costs. To a person who lives in the United States, it often seems like the kind of money we pay for health insurance in this country must be similar to what's paid in other countries around the world, but in fact, this is a myth. Other countries around the world pay far less than we pay for health care, and they are able to deliver health care to their citizens even though they are spending only a fraction of what we are spending here in the United States.

Let me put some real figures to this so you can see an example of how it works. In the United States, and individual could easily pay $400-$500 a month for health insurance coverage. Even if they aren't paying it out of their pocket, their employer is picking up the tab and effectively paying that amount for them. If you look at a country like Taiwan, however, which has a national health care system, each individual pays an average of around $20 per month for full health care coverage. That $20 a month includes maternity, dental, vision, and all medical visits. It even helps cover prescription drug costs, which are dramatically lower in Taiwan than they are in the United States. Taiwan citizens receive care that's nearly as good as the care we receive in the United States, and yet they are paying 1/20th of the costs that we are paying here in the United States.

The myth that the United States has the best health care system in the world has long been shattered. We don't have the best health care in the world -- we have the most overpriced health care system in the world. And frankly, it's not even a health care system -- it's a disease care system. But the bigger question in all of this is: how can people in Taiwan receive full health care coverage for $20 a month, while in the United States, we are being charged $500 a month for similar coverage? The answer is rather complex, but here are the primary reasons why:

Number one, in the United States we are paying outrageous costs for prescription drugs due to the monopoly drug market. The pharmaceutical industry and the FDA are both working hard to limit Americans' access to prescription drugs from Canada and other countries that would be available at far lower cost. They want to make sure that Americans buy their prescription drugs from monopoly-controlled sources in the United States, where prices can be hiked up to practically any level in order to enrich the pockets and the profits of pharmaceutical companies. This is one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated on the American people, and it is fully supported by the Bush administration and federal regulators at the FDA. Many drugs are marked up 10,000% or more over the cost of their raw ingredients, and that's why people can buy such drugs at far lower prices by going to Canada or visiting online pharmacies where the very same drugs can be purchased at a fraction of the cost you might be charged at U.S. pharmacies like Walgreens.

The second reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because our system of health care is extremely inefficient. It has multiple levels of bureaucracy. There are mountains of paperwork that must be filled out by doctors in order to get paid for the work they've performed on patients. Likewise, patients have to fill out reams of paperwork to apply for programs like the Medicare discount drug cards or even private health insurance. Employers also have a tremendous burden here: they are filling out an endless stream of paperwork to apply for health insurance for their employees and then to maintain that health insurance each year.

In fact, there are just far too many people involved in the whole system, and most of them are paper pushers. You have entire companies where people sit around filing health insurance claims for doctors' offices and hospitals. That's their job -- to file claims and make sure treatments are categorized with the right classifications so they can get paid. Then you have other departments where armies of people sit around and try to collect money they are owed by insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. At the same time, you have opposing armies at health insurance companies and government offices whose job it is to deny such claims. Their job is to pay out as little as possible, and they do that by creating nightmare paperwork scenarios for those who are filing the claims.

Then you have federal regulators who come in with yet more paperwork demands, and who have the authority to throw doctors in jail if they make a typo on a couple of forms. The result of all of this is that we as a nation are employing literally millions of people in a disease care system that spends far more time pushing paper than actually providing care. And that's why countries like Taiwan can provide similar health care for 1/20th of the cost that it is provided here in the United States.

One more reason worth mentioning in the United States is the financial risk associated with malpractice lawsuits. Many doctors today are paying such outrageous premiums in malpractice insurance that it inevitably hikes up the health care costs for everyone involved. I'm not saying that malpractice lawsuits should be outlawed, because I think it is important that pharmaceutical companies continue to be held legally responsible for the damage caused by their prescription drug side effects, but I am saying that we could benefit from honest reforms, such as loser-pays system that would eliminate frivolous lawsuits.

The bottom line is that if you put all of this together, the United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, and we aren't getting our dollar's worth. We pay 20 times what people in Taiwan pay for health care, and yet we aren't 20 times healthier. In fact, a critical look at the health of the U.S. population reveals the startling fact that we are the most chronically diseased nation in the world. So even though we pay more for health care and more for prescription drugs than any country in the world, we get the least benefit from it. We are the least healthy modern nation in the world. We have more chronic obesity, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease than any other country in the world, when you take all of these diseases and look at them on a per capita basis.

If you ask me, one of the reasons we have such high health care costs and such high rates of chronic disease is because our health care system actually causes disease. Our prescription drugs promote chronic disease through toxic side effects. For example, drugs like antidepressants can actually cause mental and behavioral disorders. Other prescription drugs, such as statins, can cause neuromuscular and mental disorders. Time and time again, we see examples where drugs that treat one organ or one biochemical system in the human body actually cause chronic disease in another organ -- typically the liver is diseased when a person takes multiple prescription drugs for an extended period of time, for example. Our health care system is a system that literally promotes chronic disease.

Even though that statement may sound a bit outlandish at first, take a look at the available evidence. If our health care system, which costs 20 times more than the system in Taiwan, actually created health in American citizens, it stands to reason that we would be able to walk outside our homes, observe the public, and see that they were healthy individuals. We should see a trend towards health and disease prevention in this country if our health care system were actually working. Let's face it -- if all of this money was a good investment in health and disease prevention, then we should be seeing some results from it, right? In fact, you sort of have to be insane to look at the U.S. population and declare, "Wow, we have the best health care system in the world, and it's working -- just look at how healthy everybody is!" Because that's not the case at all: we are a nation of high-cost health care, a nation of chronic disease and a nation that is, frankly, getting ripped off by organized medicine.

What we need, of course, is a national health care system, a system that focuses on disease prevention, a system that finally dumps prescription drugs as the number one treatment for everything under the sun, and a system that brings honesty back into medicine rather than focusing on how more profits can be generated for the pharmaceutical industry, surgeons, hospitals, and doctors.

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About the author: Mike Adams is a consumer health advocate and award-winning journalist with a strong interest in personal health, the environment and the power of nature to help us all heal He has authored more than 1,800 articles and dozens of reports, guides and interviews on natural health topics, and he has created several downloadable courses on survival and preparedness, including his widely-downloaded course on personal safety and self-defense. Adams is an independent journalist with strong ethics who does not get paid to write articles about any product or company. In 2010, Adams created, a natural living video sharing site featuring thousands of user videos on foods, fitness, green living and more. He also founded an environmentally-friendly online retailer called that uses retail profits to help support consumer advocacy programs. He's also the CEO of a highly successful email newsletter software company that develops software used to send permission email campaigns to subscribers. Adams volunteers his time to serve as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and pursues hobbies such as martial arts, Capoeira, nature macrophotography and organic gardening. He's also author a large number of health books offered by Truth Publishing and is the creator of numerous reference website including and the free downloadable Honest Food Guide. His websites also include the free reference sites and Adams believes in free speech, free access to nutritional supplements and the innate healing ability of the human body. Known by his callsign, the 'Health Ranger,' Adams posts his missions statements, health statistics and health photos at

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