A couple of points: 1. $13.50 * 2080 is $28,080, which is clearly not rockin' Prada but, in places with low costs-of-living, is very livable. Silicon Vally and places where HNers are likely to congregate are much more expensive, in large part due to housing restrictions (http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/05/face...).
2. $13.50 is where workers start, not necessarily where they end.
3. I'm obviously not arguing that workers are making a LOT of money or that they're likely to get rich, but they're also not poverty-level in most of America and are still much higher than minimum wage and much better than nothing.
But the point isn't whether $28k is livable in Nebraska, but how it compares to what people used to get back in the day.
And when Obamacare kicks in, my healthcare life will still be fundamentally managed by insurance companies, with somewhat changed regulation around the margins but still extremely profitable.
I'm sorry but we can't constantly let the price of medicine / medical care drag down the world's economy as a whole.
"We've got this medecine that shall raise your life expectancy by one year if you have a cancer and it cost $20 000, let's offer everyone this".
"We've got this medecine that shall raise your life expectancy by two year if you have a cancer and it cost $100 000, let's offer everyone this".
"We've got this medecine that shall raise your life expectancy by three year if you have a cancer and it cost $100 000 000, let's offer everyone this".
"We've got this medecine that shall raise your life expectancy by four year if you have a cancer and it cost $100 000 000 000 000 000, let's offer everyone this".
Where do you put a limit of what's acceptable?
In the end it all comes down to death tables and one day politicians and everyday people will understand that.
If 99 persons can live decently with $28 K and the hundredth one can't pay the $8 K ambulance, so be it.
Because, in the end, it all comes down to death tables and we can't allow totally overpriced and unjustified crazy high medical (and related) cost, like a $8 K ambulance trip, ruin down the entire world's economy.
Also it would be nice if these arbitrarily high medical price ween't constantly used as a form of intellectual terrorism justifying more and more debt creation.
It's about returns to worker productivity. As the article mentions, factory workers are hundreds of times more productive than they were in the 1960s. They are probably thousands of times more productive than they were in the 1760s.
How much has worker productivity increased in, say, symphonic music? In the last 300 years, I would guess it has perhaps doubled, if that (amplification) And yet symphonic concerts still happen, despite costs increasing without bound!
Medical costs rise because new services are available, but worker productivity rises slowly. Medicine may be a larger and larger fraction of the economy, but as long as worker productivity rises in OTHER fields, we will still be able to afford it.
All I have to say is I'm happy to live in Canada and don't worry about these things.
On average, we pay roughly 30-40% Income Tax. The less you make, the less you are taxed. If you make less than $38,000 in my province, you would pay something like 24% (15% federal tax + 9% provincial tax - http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html). And if you make more you get taxed more, but it's reasonable.
Honestly, when you grow up here, you just get used to it. It comes off the paycheck just like retirement savings and employment insurance, and you don't think about it.
I'm a proud Canadian, equal healthcare for everyone is a value we share and I think it's worth paying for.