In US public policy, all roads lead to healthcare. Remorseless pressure on public spending? Blame Medicare. Economic insecurity? Fear of losing health benefits is a chief cause. Stagnant wages and worsening inequality? Look to the cost of employer-provided insurance. This failing system is a national scandal not just in its own right, but because of its proliferating fiscal, economic and political implications.
For many workers without employer-provided insurance, the cost of cover is now prohibitive. The average cost for a family is $12,000 (€7,700, £6,100) a year (roughly a quarter of median household income before tax) and rising handsomely in real terms. If you have cover provided by your employer, losing your job means losing your insurance. The unluckiest – especially those with a dreaded “pre-existing condition” – may then face ruin. This vastly amplifies the anxieties colouring the election and driving the US towards an increasingly strident anti-business, anti-trade outlook.
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