Single Payer Health Care Would Help Auto Industry

While I originally wrote this in January of 2007, concerning the cost of health care to consumers and service provided, it is equally applicable to the savings for the auto industry. And that is not my opinion, that is the opinion of the successful auto industry management. The ones that aren't asking for a bailout. At the time I wrote this in 2007, each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197. Probably more savings now since this was written nearly two years ago:

In U.S., it's pay more, get less - Universal Health Care

Why is this man smiling?

"A RELATIVE BARGAIN: George Mercieca, a worker at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, shows off his Canadian health care card. GM spends an average of $1,385 a year on medical bills for hourly workers in Canada. An American autoworker costs the company about $5,000, but studies show Americans are no healthier than their foreign counterparts."

He is smiling because he has a great job with better medical benefits than most Americans could ever hope for under our failed healthcare for profit system. The kind of job that Connecticut , and the USA as a whole, can never hope to attract under our current system. If you do not believe me than ask yourself "what does the manufacturing industry have to say about this?"

While training issues are less of a problem here in Connecticut, because we have a decent educational system, health care is cited as a major issue for Toyota's decision to choose Ontario as the location of a new factory for their Rav-4s slated to open in 2008:
"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.

Acknowledging it was the "worst-kept secret" throughout Ontario's automotive industry, Toyota confirmed months of speculation Thursday by announcing plans to build a 1,300-worker factory in the southwestern Ontario city.

"Welcome to Woodstock - that's something I've been waiting a long time to say," Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, told hundreds gathered at a high school gymnasium.

The plant will produce the RAV-4, dubbed by some as a "mini sport-utility vehicle" that Toyota currently makes only in Japan. It plans to build 100,000 vehicles annually.

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.

In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.

It is clearly an advantage for any company that wants to open up a business in any industry... A 4 to 5 dollar per hour advantage. An advantage so great that any state that passes true-single-payer Universal Health Care first will be positioned to become a mecca for any company considering opening any kind of business.

We already have an educational advantage over the most of the USA, having a highly rated school system and a high rate of college graduates. Why the hold up on giving these businesses the real money savings that Universal Health Care would provide and the other best reason to set up shop in Connecticut?

Because of lobbying from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. We need to take them out of the loop in the decision making process for this issue since we know they will fight it tooth-and-nail. We need to look at what is best for the people of Connecticut and for all industries, not just those two lobbying behemoths.

And just how much more is health care costing us?
Medical bills soar

Divide the nation's medical bill evenly across the population, and each of us paid $6,102 in 2004, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That's 50 percent more than the residents of the country with the next-highest health care bill, Switzerland ($4,077), and more than double the average for industrialized nations ($2,546).


Those countries provide health care for all their residents for less money than the United State spends while it leaves an estimated 46 million without insurance.

That's contradicted by studies conducted by Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "We have about the same number of MRIs and CT scanners as Canada, the U.K. and France, and far fewer than Japan," Anderson said. "We have the same number of doctors, doctor visits, hospitals and inpatient days at hospitals.

"The difference is we pay two to 2 1/2 times more for virtually identical services."

The average U.S. physician earned $180,000 in 2004, Anderson said; in Canada, it was $100,000 (in U.S. dollars).

Even after adjusting for the higher income of U.S. residents, Americans pay on average $2,000 more per year for health care than the residents of the next-highest paying country, Anderson said.

One out of every seven dollars spent today in the United States goes for health care -- a record 15.3 percent of the gross domestic product in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available. By comparison, Canada spends 9.9 percent of its GDP; Japan spends 8.0 percent.

By 2015, one out of every five dollars spent in the United States will go for health care, according to projections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If those projections hold, the average American's share for medical needs alone will be a staggering $12,320.

For all that money, you would expect Americans to be healthier than their foreign friends. The opposite is true.

Whoa! They are healthier than us, and they pay less? And it is not just a monetary cost:
# If you're born in the United States, chances are that you'll die younger than people born in other industrialized nations. The United States has the lowest life expectancy of 14 nations measured by the World Health Organization. U.S. life expectancy in 2001 was 77.1; Canada, 79.7; Italy, 79.8; Japan, 81.5

# The infant mortality rate is higher in the United States than in other industrialized nations. In 2003, seven infants died for every 1,000 live births in the United States -- the worst rate of 19 countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

I am thinking that anyone that is really PRO-LIFE, and not just talking about it for political reasons, would have to be shocked by those infant mortality rates. Why aren't they screaming about this issue? If they are really honest about being pro-life than they should be our allies on true Universal Heathcare.

A s for manufacturers, just how much profit margin can health care open up for them?
Those vehicles, often parked on the same dealer lot as identical vehicles produced in U.S. plants, have one notable difference: Each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197.

The higher salaries of Canadian autoworkers offset much of the health care savings for the company, said Jim Cameron, labor relations director for GM Canada. But at the cash-strapped automaker, such a huge health care cost differential is hard to ignore. The difference is primarily a result of Canada's national health care system, in which most medical bills are paid by the government. Most countries have similar systems.

WHAT THE FUCK!!! They get higher wages up there too? And GM still racks up more profits from production up north in Canada then they can down here? How much more of this are you Nutmeggers willing to take?

Can you imagine the shock wave across the nation if a car manufacturer or some other large industry chose to locate in Connecticut over other states or countries... And it could happen.

Do you want to continue to pay more just to get less? Less healthy workers, less money, less jobs, less profit for industry as a whole.

Why not get more? More people that actually have coverage? More healthy workers that are more productive? More savings in health care for us and for industry? More manufacturers picking Connecticut as their destination of choice? More smiles on Nutmeggers' faces.

Universal Health Care is the answer to everyone getting more.


It might be the answer to save US industry.

There is an off the shelf answer sitting there getting dusty. Ask Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the other cosigners about H.R. 676. It would be a huge step towards helping every industry in this nation become competitive.

If you need to know about a health care plan that can fix many of the problems with our privatized ripoff:

The United States National Health Insurance Act

H.R. 676

"Expanded & Improved Medicare For All"

*introduced by Reps. John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Donna Christensen

"National health insurance is not only the best answer,

it is the only answer to eliminating health disparities.

If you live in CT-05 you may want to know that Rep. Chris Murphy has yet to sign up as a co-sponsor to this bill. Ya think it is time to remind him how important H.R. 676 is to all Americans?

Rep. Chris Murphy's contact info

Chris Murphy
(202) 225-4476,
1 Grove Street, New Britain CT 06053


PALGOLAK said...

It is my understanding that U.S. GM workers get an hourly wage that is about 50% higher than their Canadian counterparts. The quote I read said that GM workers in Michigan made an *average*(!!?!) of 120k USD per annum.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for his all information..
this is info input to me..

Connecticut Man1 said...

Palgolak... Why would the Detroit media lie about the numbers they reported?

You're welcome skebber.

Connecticut Man1 said...

Palgolak: Whomever told you about the high pay of GM workers forgot to mention the formula they used to come to those numbers. From a 2006 CNN article:

"The top pay for a GM hourly employee is $27 an hour, but with benefits and future health care costs GM estimates that hour of work costs the company $73.73. The flat wage works out to about $56,000 a year before overtime, so those taking a $140,000 buyout would get about 2-1/2 years of pay in the lump sum."

By that crazy way of figuring a salary EVERYONE EVERYWHERE with benefits and a retirement plan is a millionaire already, eh?

Just thought you would be interested. And thanks for the comment. :)

Bob Haiducek (hi' da sek) , Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate said...

Connecticut Man, I'm glad that I found you and your single-payer posts. You do good work! Excellent!

1 - Smiles

Yes, that Canadian is smiling! Just like the Australian travelers that I saw in Chicago over the weekend. Just like me when I and my family lived in Canada for 5 years. Just like most Canadians I know. Just like people who live in every OTHER industrialized country who appreciate the PEACE of MIND that they have regarding health care.

2 - Attracting Jobs

Yes, we WILL attract jobs if we go to non-profit financing of health care, which is what every OTHER industrialized country has. Yes, Toyota might have chosen the U.S. for a new factory if we were globally competitive regarding health care.

3 - Workers pay a little, benefit a lot

Yes, when we raise our payroll tax 3.3% ... and drop our payments to ZERO to the incredible number of 1300-1600 for-profit companies, we WILL save up to around $8,000 per family based on solid, economic, common sense, calculations.

That is a helluva lot better than the Obama proposal that MIGHT save up to $2,500 based on guesses on what might be saved from various "ideas". Here's a critical part >>> Obama and Kennedy and Baucus and others have their staffs working very hard to establish some health care proposal that will cost us dearly across the entire U.S. There will be MORE health insurance companies bureaucracy, more government bureaucracy and more supporting bureaucracy. Take a look. But, most importantly, keep on reading and take action NOW (that is linked again below), because all of this flurry of activity to make things worse is happening NOW.

4 - Advantage for any state? Advantage for ALL states! (as per your reference to the proposed U.S. law).

Let's work across the USA to overcome the two lobbying behemoth that you wrote about.

The forces of the for-profit companies have been spending millions to crush all efforts. They blasted Oregon with their influence and caused a defeat in November 2002. They and friends (such as Wal-Mart) blasted California with their influence in November 2004. The ballot proposals that thousands of citizens worked so hard for were defeated around 80% to 20%. They have incredible power that will only be overcome by the overwhelming force of citizens communicating to U.S. Representatives so that the whole country can have the benefits.

I hope that I can help you, and I hope that you can help me. I've spent 2007 and 2008 developing a website. At the website people can sign up to receive early-in-the-month e-mail reminders to take action during the first half of each month. See the schedule.

For whoever signs up for reminders I plan to provide more information in the coming weeks that will hopefully be a good way to educate citizens AND give them good answers to their questions and concerns. We must prepare people for this important change to our society where we will SAVE money and REGAIN jobs and IMPROVE health and SAVE lives (as you also indicated in your post). What a combination!

5 - Costs and Results ...

--- Costs are high. We pay 25-30% more than the average of the other countries, as you indicated.
--- The other countries have health care for ALL.
--- We spend an incredible 25-30% of our more more than $2 trillion budget when we should pay 3-5%
--- Reports that were published in 2008 documented that the U.S. went from 28th life expectancy to 30th ... AND ... U.S. ability to minimize preventable deaths due to preventable diseases went from 15th out of 19 to 19th out of 19. We are now dead last! A HUGE number of people are dying unnecessarily.
--- Infant mortality can be an issue trying to debate that, but the maternal (mothers') mortality is also BAD in the USA!

6 - Bills paid by the government? Not exactly.

Let's have a clarification here. We only need the government to pass legislation to set up a public agency that will take the small % from our paycheck pay the bills. That public agency needs to NOT be influenced by 535 federal politicians and 50 sets of state politicians. It needs to be a public agency that simply does it mission, not influenced by day-to-day influence of politicians and their huge number of lobbyists. Canada got into trouble by having the politicians cut the health care budget, which increased wait times. The wait times are now much better, but it was the darn politicians that caused the problem. Let's MINIMIZE the government's involvement in OUR (we, the citizens') public agency! Some of us will need to be a watchdog on that, but first let's get the law that will establish the agency in the first place.

7 - Focusing on U.S. Representatives! Excellent!

Thanks for including the reference to the U.S. legislation. The "enemy" (people, organizations and ideas) needs to be overcome by an overwhelming amount of communications to our U.S. Representatives all across the country ... every U.S. Congressional District. The companies are U.S. and are global. LET US BE UNITED to benefit all of us. By early 2009 after some more preparation work gets accomplished (as I indicated above), I plan to get 1,000 to 3,000 people communicating to my U.S. Representative in Michigan in the coming months.

Want to join in this? Start with getting reminders to take action ...

As you will also see at the web page, I don't need dues or donations, just some U.S. citizens who want to spend a little time each month to accomplish a huge benefit.

Bob Haiducek
Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate
Health Care for All Now

Bob Haiducek (hi' da sek) , Bob the Health and Health Care Advocate said...

I'm not sure why that last link got messed up, but here it is again: Health Care for All Now.

Sorry if that post was too long for some folks. This is a critical issue that takes communication of knowledge and taking action.

Connecticut Man1 said...

No bob. Don't be sorry. You seem to know what you are talking about so your comment is very much appreciated. I lived in Canada for many years, as well, and I would not call their system perfect. But it is leaps and bounds ahead of the system in place here.

I am not supportive of Obama's plan for coverage, but I do believe that it MIGHT lay in place the foundations for an eventual switch to single payer. But that will, also, mean many more years of money wasted in the "for profit" system that has goals that are completely counter to the goal of giving good care. As nyceve at dailykos likes to call it: "Death By Spreadsheet"

If we keep the pressure up on them, we may be able to convince an Obama administration and Dem controlled Congress to finally do the right thing. I am not holding my breath on that one given the recent actions I have seen in Congress.

Connecticut Man1 said...

BTW: The reason I key on the state idea is because I truly believe that once one state establishes a true single payer universal health care plan the rest of the US will watch the industries and people flood into that state. I am pretty darn certain that, given the chance, this idea would win in the "free market" but we need to key on a few states that might be persuaded to try it.

And Connecticut is about as liberal a state as you will find in the US.

PALGOLAK said...

Thank you, Connecticut Man1, for helping me understand the math behind the quoted figures.

Still, it just doesn't make any sense to me, at any level, that Canadian autoworkers make more an hour than US autoworkers. If true, it is flabbergasting...

Connecticut Man1 said...

It is true. They also produce more cars for that more money. These are two things that factored into negotiations at that Canadian factory last time they were dealing -around the same time I originally wrote this - in January 2007. The corporate side people were saying that "they are making more per hour than Americans doing the same job!" But the fact was, in this particular case, they were outproducing the American factories.