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When is a non-profit corporation not a non-profit entity? In my view they should be deleted from the category when the president thereof makes over $1 million per annum.

Is that too restrictive? How about $19 million? It is certainly profitable for that president. And who approves his compensation? The board of directors does of course. And several people who report to him make over $1 million a year. I do not doubt that some of them are on the board of directors. This was all admitted by said president on a TV news program.

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The enterprise in question has taken over most of the hospitals and other health providers in Pittsburgh, Pa. It seems to be a case of you approve my salary and I will approve yours. But we have the best health care in the world, right?

Well our average annual life span is 40th on the list. Ours is 77.97 years. Japan, currently number one, has a span of 82.73 years average. In the Western Hemisphere Canada is ahead of us (number 12) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (number 29) and Costa Rica (number 31) and Puerto Rico (number 33) and so on.

But we have an efficient health care system, right? Well we certainly spend enough. Our per capita cost is $8,735 per person. Japan, with the highest life span on the planet spends just $3,649 per person. Canada, our next door neighbor, spends $4,642 per person. As a percentage of GDP we dole out quite a bit, 17.9 percent. Japan spends 5.9 percent of GDP. Canada, similar to the U.S. in many ways, spends significantly less then we do, 10.9 percent of GDP. Australia spends 9.1percent of its GDP.

So why do we spend so much more but obtain poorer results than even some of our possessions? In health care, as in other endeavours, the people at the top of each non-government organization are grossly overcompensated. For profit or allegedly non-profit, it does not matter. Canada bargains with the drug manufacturers, but Medicare Part D pays list price. If our health care providers were truly non-profit then perhaps we could score a bit higher on results and quite a bit lower on annual cost.

If we had a public option for Obamacare supported by premiums and administered by the people who administer Medicare, the overhead component of health insurance costs would drop precipitously. If you talk to health care providers they will tell you that Medicare is fussy about the paperwork, but overall it pays more promptly and with fewer refusals than private insurers. The reason is simple. Medicare has a mission of paying claims. Private insurers have a mission of maximizing corporate profits. The most successful private insurers are the ones that are the stingiest with their customers, you and me.

I have a relative who moved to Australia wth her husband, an Aussie native. A few years back he had a stroke. All his health care costs were covered. When he needs to go to therapy or a doctor's appointment, the government pays for the ride. So how does Australia rank in the metrics? Australia pays 9.1 percent of GDP on health care, half what we do.

Do I want socialized medicine? Yes I do. It would be less money drawn out of our pockets and better results overall. The numbers don't lie.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at cct@wexfordpress.com.

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