It’s interesting to go back and read some of the coverage released in March in attempts to predict the Winners and Losers under President Obama’s health law. While some predictions regarding ETFs seem to be holding true, other predictions concerning the law are less solid.
What you’ll notice is missing from nearly all of these predictions is an accurate depiction of the immediate ramifications for American businesses. The Center for Health Transformation has been keeping tabs on the costs to businesses, particularly in the Fortune 500, and the numbers are about what you’d expect: very bad. See Obamacare’s costs to business here (PDF).
Now, a supporter of the law will counter that the benefits offset the costs. After all, haven’t burdensome health care costs been hurting American productivity for decades? But this latest report from John Graham at the Pacific Research Institute (PDF) shows the “cure” may be worse than the disease, illustrated by comparing the U.S. experience to that of Canada, Germany, France, and Great Britain.
In all these countries, GDP per capita was significantly less than the United States. The U.S. spent significantly more on health care per person than comparable countries. Nevertheless, Americans still have much more money left over after paying for health care. Indeed, we have almost one-third more resources than Germany or France—after paying for health care—a “bonus” of American productivity.
Although many Americans suffer without the means to pay for their health care, PRI has argued elsewhere that this is largely a consequence of misguided government intrusion. And it’s not as though the American welfare state cannot subsidize those truly incapable of financial self-reliance. Medicaid, the joint state-federal program for poor patients has grown relentlessly in the last four decades.
American crusaders for “universal” health care—as opposed to universal choice in health care—emphasize America’s uniqueness in lacking this characteristic of the modern welfare state. Given the benefits of America’s productivity, perhaps it is a uniqueness we should not rush to abandon.
More costs to businesses, and less productivity? No wonder economic stagnation is becoming, in the president’s own words, the “New Normal.”