Do you need a little help President Obama??

Dear Mr. President

I know you are pretty busy creating your State of the Union address for next Tuesday so I thought you could use some free advice from someone outside of the beltway.  No, I don’t have an MBA degree from Harvard or other Ivy league college although I did manage to graduate from Purdue University about more than forty years ago but that hardly counts now.

Up front I must say I actively supported you in your run for office in 2008 but to my disappointment  you seem to have gotten off message quite a bit since then. I can certainly understand that as you are now surrounded by the most powerful political elitists in the world.  Maybe they have convinced you that the promises you made to guys like me are just not achievable. But that is another story.

I am offering this advice as just a simple guy who worked as an engineer for more than thirty years and is about to enter into the Medicare system that is so trashed today.  I am at the front of the Boomer generation so over the years I paid for my grandfathers and my father’s health care via my Social Security taxes. Every year those taxes seemed to go up a little more but I didn’t complain much as I just assumed that those following me would return the favor. But if things keep going it looks like that may not be the case.

Let’s get on to my advice to you.  I know you are looking for places to reduce spending and that is a very noble and necessary duty.  The healthcare bill passed last year was a good start but please only consider it a start. The next logical step will be to look around the world to see how to reduce the costs.  No, I am not one of those who think that we in the U.S. are the only ones who have a brain between their ears. It seems almost the opposite to me when I look at how much we spend keeping ourselves well compared to them.  I know that Washington is a place that particularly likes graphs and such so I am going to include some in this advise.

Healthcare Costs I know the graph is kind of hard to see but I don’t have the staff of 200 to do it the right way so I will have to explain some of it.  It seems to me, being a simple person that I am, that a good way to judge how well your healthcare works is would be to look how long we live.  The graph here shows that among all the countries listed that Japanese citizens live the longest; almost ten years more than we do. Japan’s healthcare costs per citizen is a little over $2500/year. Our corresponding costs are shown on the graph. You have to look all the way to the very top to see it. It comes out as about three times what the Japanese pay and Japanese cover a much higher percentage of people!

I admit that I have been a Chevy guy all of my life but it seems that a lot of people in this country think Japanese cars are superior to ours. Having to bail out GM last year seems to reinforce that fact.  So, if so many of us think the Japanese are better car builders shouldn’t they be good at other things too?  Maybe you can convince us on Tuesday that  that we should be looking at how they spend three times less than we do and live a lot longer. Isn’t here something to learn here? If for some reason people won’t look to the Japanese, we did go to war with them just before I was born,  maybe you can convince them to look at any of the the other nations who seem to be doing it better then we do. There are scores of them. How about New Zealand? I don’t think we have anything against them?

Isn’t it just possible that we can learn from others on how to control our medical costs? Our current system seems almost unfixable so lets look at how others do it.

That is enough for this idea. I will let you think about it some and tomorrow I will give you a sure fire idea on how to control our runaway deficits.  My solution tomorrow really seems to be a no brainer. But what do I know I don’t have that big time college diploma that so many around you have.

(except for the graph from National Geographic this post is totally me so there are no sources here)