It is time to put the health care crisis in sharp terms everyone can understand. I have one piece of advise for every potential manufacturer and transnational company looking to expand. Don't build a factory in America. If you plan to compete in the international marketplace, don't start a single business--or expand an existing one--in this country until we really try to rein in health care costs.
The United States spends nearly twice per capita what any other industrialized nation does on health care. The current rate of increase in our health care spending is faster than any other first world nation. The current health care reform bill working its way through Congress will not go far enough to fix this problem.
The CBO projects that even if reform passes today, seven years from now, premiums for large, employer-provided health insurance plans will only be between 0 and 3% lower than they would be without reform. The average premiums for a family policy provided by a large company would be $20,100 a year.
Take that in because that is a huge number. In 2009, the average premiums for an employer-provided family policy was $13,375. The CBO is predicting that the cost of insurance premiums are going to increase by roughly $6,700. That is roughly a 50% increase in premiums in only seven years. It is a growth rate that will far exceed wages or GDP.
Health care spending currently consumes over 16% of our economy, and that number is going to keep expanding. It is the 800-pound gorilla sitting on our economy, slowing down our recovery. It is a massive drag on every company in this country that tries to compete internationally. It is a huge overhead cost that cripples American manufacturing, and it is only getting worse.
I'm encouraged that Democrats are planning to expand health insurance to millions of Americans in a way that does not add to the deficit or increase the growth rate in premiums. The bill does contain many health insurance regulations that are long overdue. There are some cost control measures in the bill that should help, but they are much too small. As a nation, we will not be able to compete going forward if we are spending upwards of an extra $6,000 on our workers health care compared to Germany, Japan, Canada, the UK, etc.
This will be the easy health care fight. The next fight to truly control cost will be even more heated. Ideally, it will happen soon, before it is too late. Looking at the current trend, with our all-consuming health care costs still growing at a rapid rate, I must honestly advise any company to avoid building a factory in this country. That health care overhead cost is on track to keep growing--without real relief in sight. I'm simply the least important person looking at the trend and giving CEO's this same advice. That is something that should scare most Americans, and, I hope, scare our representatives in Washington, too.