As President Obama and his media minions try to convince the public we're spending too much on healthcare in this nation thereby necessitating draconian reform, a seemingly more logical yet elusive view is that we're not spending enough.
After all, once you provide food and shelter for you and your family, what else should be more important than physical well-being?
Given how well the healthcare industry has done during this recession, and how employment continues to rise in this field as others shed jobs at breakneck speeds, maybe we should be looking at this as an economic driver rather than impediment.
Such was certainly the case made by Craig S. Karpel in a truly outstanding op-ed at the Wall Street Journal Monday (h/t James Pinkerton):
Mr. Obama has said that "the cost of health care has weighed down our economy." No one thinks the 20% of our GDP that's attributable to manufacturing is weighing down the economy, because it's intuitively clear that one person's expenditure on widgets is another person's income. But the same is true of the health-care industry. The $2.4 trillion Americans spend each year for health care doesn't go up in smoke. It's paid to other Americans.
And, that's quite an economic catalyst:
A little-noticed feature of the current recession is the role of the health-care industry as a resilient driver of the general economy. Health-care now accounts for 10.4% of nonfarm employment. Health-care employment grew by 19,600 jobs in July 2009, on a par with the average monthly gain for the first half of 2009, which was down from an average monthly increase of 30,000 in 2008. Remarkably, these gains occurred in a period during which total employment shrank by 6.7 million.
Hmmm. An industry that grows even when the economy shrinks. Why would anyone in their right mind what to harm such an industry?
The U.S. health-care economy should be viewed not as a burden but as an engine of growth. Medical and orthopedic equipment exports increased by 65.1% from 2004 through 2008. Pharmaceutical exports were up 74.6%. The unprecedented advances expected to come out of American stem cell, nanotechnology and human genome research—which other countries' constricted health sectors cannot support—will send these already impressive figures skyward.
A study by Deloitte LLP has found that more than 400,000 non-U.S. residents obtained medical care in the U.S. in 2008, and it forecasts an annual increase of 3%. Some 3.5% of inpatient procedures at U.S. hospitals were performed on international patients, many of them escaping from Canada's supposedly superior health system.
Hmmm. So, healthcare might be one of the few American industries continually producing a trade surplus:
"Inbound medical tourism," Deloitte stated, "is primarily driven by the search for high-quality care without extensive waiting periods. Foreign patients are willing to pay more for care within the United States if these two factors play a large role." The deficiencies of the foreign health-care systems the Obama administration wishes to emulate can be counted on to generate ever-increasing revenues for U.S. providers and employment for Americans. [...]
The administration's health-care plan is biased toward bean-counting rather than designed to maximize American physical and mental well-being. We need to ask ourselves whether there is truly anything more valuable to us than our loved ones and our own health and longevity.
Yet, the way the Left and their media minions say it, the healthcare industry is killing the economy.