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Warren Buffet Points Out That Health Care Costs Are Eating Us Alive


This quote from Warren Buffet’s annual meeting with investors in his company Berkshire Hathaway, sums it all up as reported by the NYT:

He also said rising health care costs, rather than high taxes, were the biggest drag on American businesses.

“Medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness,” he said.

What he means is that American business is less competitive than in other countries because health care costs in the US are twice as high as in other industrialized countries.  Costs are too high because of the excessive power and political influence of insurance companies and drug companies,  and to some extent the American Medical Association and hospital associations.  Insurance companies add 30% to costs simply by dividing people up and determining who is eligible for what coverage– a cost that universal health care systems simply don’t have to pay.  Brand-name drug companies push prices up by their stranglehold on the generic drug industry.  And so on.

In his meeting, which he held as usual in Omaha and which attracted thousands of investors as usual, he condemned the Republican health insurance bill as a “giveaway to wealthy individuals like himself.”  Buffet is, of course, a Democrat, and he was a major supporter of Barack Obama.

It’s likely that Warren Buffet dispensed other, equally valuable advice, but his talk (with his partner Charles Munger) lasted 6-1/2 hours, so it would be difficult to digest the entire transcript.  Since Buffet is 86 and Munger is 93, they have designated successors to carry on after them, but Buffet says he plans to keep going as long as he can.

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