Guest Post: Healthcare Arms Race

Editor's note: At Global Pulse, we usually write about how the global health issues — HIV/AIDS, malaria, neglected tropical disease and USAID funding for each of them.  But, it's easy to forget that there are health issues aplenty in our backyards.  Gregory Warner, senior reporter at Marketplace covers the economics of healthcare. He shared this video with us at GlobalPost, and we thought that it was an excellent piece that showed some of the very salient problems concerning health care in the United States.  

For a while this summer, my son refused to fall asleep without first being read a Dr Seuss book. Night after night, we worked our way through the canon, and back again. Certain books stayed for a while on repeat: “The Butter Battle Book” was one of those favorites. It’s a ridiculous, wonderful story about a rapidly escalating arms race between two rival clans (The Yooks and the Zooks) over the proper way to eat breakfast that ends with most of the townsfolk cowering in fear underground.

Meanwhile, in my day job as a reporter for the public radio show Marketplace, I was reporting on a different kind of arms race, a healthcare arms race fueled by local politicians. Politicians, seeking more healthcare job growth in their communities, can encourage a medical technology and infrastructure rivalry with other communities by bringing in ever-larger hospitals and ever-more-fancy gadgets with the result of driving up insurance premiums and taxes and possibly even creating a healthcare jobs bubble.

Flash forward to one night, after bedtime, with my son sound asleep and the house all quiet and the Seussian rhymes tip-toeing in my head and the themes of this radio story going around in my brain. That night I sat down and wrote a poem about a fictional city named Hobbs. Hobbs desperately needed good jobs, and the mayor wanted to find them. That is where the trouble begins.

Underneath the rhyming words and cartoon illustrations, though, this poem takes on a number of serious and thorny national problems. Namely; what is the price of job growth? And what's the link between healthcare jobs and our looming healthcare debt?

Read more about Greg's work at Marketplace.