23 September, 2009

Just some general thinking...

Fiscal 2009 budget for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: $1.055 Trillion.

2nd Quarter 2009 Profits for the top 7 US Health Insurance Companies: $2.674 Billion. (Note: Companies included in sample are UnitedHealth Group, Humana Inc., Aetna, Health Net, Wellpoint, Coventry Health Care Inc., CIGNA; together, they make up about 85% of the health insurance business in the US).

For the sake of argument, lets assume those figures stay more or less the same for all four quarters of 2009. Multiplying by four, we arrive at a figure of about $10.696 Billion. Also, lets increase that by another 15%, to represent the additional 15% profits not covered in the above figures. That brings us to $12.3 Billion. Now, lets be really generous, apply a fudge factor and round up to $13 Billion, and get a rough estimate for the projected combined profits of the Health Insurnace industry in the US for 2009.

$13 Billion. Sounds like a lot. But its still only about 1.23% of the entire Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid budgets for FY2009.

Now lets switch over to the pharmaceutical companies. Can't find 2009 figures, but I did find a table listing profits for the top 10 companies in the first half of 2008.

  • Pfizer - $6.526 Billion
  • Merck - $3.019 Billion
  • Sanofi-Aventis - $5.140 Billion
  • Astra-Zeneca - $3.026 Billion
  • Hoffman-LaRoche - $3.578 Billion
  • Novartis - $3.669 Billion
  • Johnson & Johnson - $6.125 Billion
  • Glaxo Smith Kline - $5.132 Billion
  • Wyeth - $2.184 Billion
  • Bristol-Meyers Squibb - $1.381 Billion
Total: app. $39.781 Billion.  Looks like the drug industry is where the profits are at.

Multiply that figure by two, and you arrive at an estimate of $79.562 Billion for 2008.  Lets just round that up to $80 Billion for a rough figure of total 2008 profits.  This in turn breaks down to only about 7.6% of the FY2009 S&S-M-M budget.

Taken together, both figures only represent about 8.8% of the entire Fiscal 2009 budget for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  While these are only rough estimates, it seems reasonable to me to assume that they are not too much out of line from what we can expect in the future.

Even if we were to suddenly seize every cent of those profits from these "Evil Corporations" and put it to use to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicade, we would only have enough money to run those programs for 32 days; the government would still have to find a way to fund the remaining 333 days. And that is just for the way things are budgeted FOR THIS YEAR; who knows how much we'll be talking about when Health Care reform passes?

If we take out Social Security and believe the fiction that the federal government does not need to touch the Social Security Trust Fund at present, and only worry about Medicare & Medicaid, we arrive at a total budget for FY2009 of $511 Billion. In which case, the profit amounts mentioned above only account for 2.1% (Health Insurance) and 16% (Pharmaceutical) of the combined Medicare & Medicaid budget, or about 18.1% combined. The government could run those programs for only 66 days on that amount. And again, this is only assuming current budget figures, and does not include any increases brought about by current health care reform proposals.

So for those who think "tax the corporations to pay for health care"... sorry, but so far as I can see, the math just doesn't work.

And hey, if someone has better figures or another way of parsing this data, feel free to point it out to me. But I'm still having a real hard time understanding how taxing the hell out of these industries is going to solve the basic budgetary problem. Or even make that big of a difference. In the end, the overwhelming majority of these bills are still going to be paid as they are always paid - on the backs of the taxpaying citizens of the country.

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