By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former President Bill
Clinton said the United States could save more than $1 trillion
a year by adopting any other advanced nation's healthcare
He also said there are important advances included in
President Obama's healthcare reforms and urged that it be
improved upon rather than repealed.
"Our healthcare system has gotten all out of whack,"
Clinton said in a speech on Tuesday at the Jefferies Global
Healthcare Conference, stressing the need to bring inflation in
healthcare costs back in line with economic inflation.
Clinton said Canada and the European countries that have
universal health coverage for their citizens spend a smaller
percentage of their gross domestic product on healthcare than
the United States does.
"Germany and France, with what is considered the most
effective systems in the world in terms of universal coverage
and quality of treatment, they spend 10 percent. Canada spends
10.5 percent," Clinton said.
"The United States spends 17.2 percent without having
universal coverage," Clinton said.
"That means if we just scrapped our system and adopted any
other wealthy country's system, at a minimum we would have a
trillion dollars more a year for pay raises, for investment in
new technology, to create new jobs or whatever."
He said resistance to change, in addition to political
maneuvering, is part of what is keeping the government Medicare
program from any meaningful reforms.
"The beneficiaries in the present would rather hold onto
the present than make sure they've done what's necessary to
preserve it for the future, and that's part of the problem with
Medicare," Clinton said.
He said Social Security, which many people fear could go
bankrupt if changes are not adopted before the bulk of the
giant baby generation retires, would eventually fix itself.
"Social Security is primarily just a demographics problem,"
Clinton said, noting that not enough people will be working to
pay for all the members of his generation collecting Social
"Although if the economy stays this anemic we'll all be
working too and that's not all bad, you'll live longer if you
do," he said.
"But when we all die off that will all be fixed," he
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gary Hill)
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