" Small businesses are less likely than large employers to be able to provide health insurance as a benefit. At 12 percent, health care is the most expensive benefit paid by U.S. employers, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
These ballooning dollar figures place a heavy burden on companies doing business in the United States and can put them at a substantial competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace. For large multinational corporations, footing healthcare costs presents an enormous expense. General Motors, for instance, covers more than 1.1 million employees and former employees, and the company says it spent roughly $5.6 billion on healthcare expenses in 2006. GM says healthcare costs add between $1,500 and $2,000 to the sticker price of every automobile it makes. Health benefits for unionized auto workers became a central issue derailing the 2008 congressional push to provide a financial bailout to GM and its ailing Detroit rival, Chrysler.
It is difficult to quantify the precise effect high healthcare costs have had so far on the overall U.S. job market. Health care is one of several factors--entrenched union contracts are another--that make doing business in the United States expensive, and it's difficult to parse the effects of each factor. Moreover, economists disagree on the number of U.S. jobs that have been lost to offshoring--the transfer of business operations across national boundaries to friendlier operating environments. The Princeton economist Alan S. Blinder, in a 2006 Foreign Affairs article, says that judging by data compiled from "fragmentary studies," it is apparent that "under a million service-sector jobs in the United States have been lost to offshoring to date." Blinder goes on to predict that somewhere between 28 million and 42 million U.S. jobs are "susceptible" to offshoring in a future where technology allows the more efficient transfer of jobs. Many other economists, however, have shied away from making such estimates, and some have criticized Blinder's approach.
It is clear, however, that healthcare expenses affect every level of U.S. industry. For large corporations they mean the massive "legacy costs" associated with insuring retired employees. For small business owners they can be even more devastating. "In many places, you have small businesses that simply cannot afford to offer coverage," Sarbanes says. Often, he says, healthcare expenses make it impossible for small business owners to hire candidates they would otherwise desire.
Rival Healthcare Models
Elsewhere in the world, healthcare systems are much less reliant on private sector support--and much less expensive. For example, the U.S. system costs 83 percent more per capita than the Canadian system, where public funds collected through taxes pay for up to 70 percent of healthcare coverage.
So the Canadian government spends 70% of about $4,500 per head a year, that comes to $3,150 compared to $4,380 that the US government is currently spending. The UK government spends $2,550 per head per year. And yet GM is spending upwards of $1,500 per vehicle on healthcare cost!! plus you've got millions broken by medical bills, millions not getting proper care and thousands dying. How fab!
A prime reason why Canadian's spend more than the UK but don't get any more in terms of healthcare is that due to Canada's proximity to the USA it pays doctors etc a higher wage because of the competition from it's neighbor for higher wages.