Has The American Dream Drifted North?

I copied the title of this post from Tina Dupuy's blog article. I found some of what she said to be a bit surprising as she discusses a Canadian TV show named Til Debt Do Us Part that is hosted by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Here are a few excerpts from it:
Then Gail handed the couple a wad of bills to illustrate they were going to be paying for things in cash from now on. The money? Canadian. These are Canadians. Their budget is manageable for one because they’ve chosen to not buy supplemental insurance and rely on the government to provide all of their health care.

This couple and most of the couples on the show don’t pay for health care out of their family budgets. The average family in America spends around $15,000 a year or around 22% of their income on health care. That amount will apparently pay most of a mortgage on an enviable home in the greater Toronto area.

Most notable, the show doesn’t delve into any sob stories about getting diseases and therefore having debt. There are no staples of the only-in-America saga of losing your health, then your health care and then your house. The debt is all from spending money on things they want. Simply because they want them. Which makes these spendthrift Canadians seem more American than Americans.
I think that Tina has gone a bit overboard to make a point. But she does make a few cogent points about how the expense of American healthcare impacts the economic health of average families. I know that our annual healthcare costs in 2009 were $9,549.. and we have really good insurance.. and there are only two of us in our family. So I tend to think that her figures are probably not too far off.. but I could be off base. Something to think about as congress moves to repeal last year's healthcare legislation.

How much does healthcare cost you? Do you think you Americans are paying to much for it?


  1. How much does health care cost me? The company I retired from still pays a major part of our health plan. We pay a small monthly co-pay. The coverage is 100% - medical, dental and eye care. We are blessed.

    Do I think Americans are paying to much for health care? It depends but general speaking - Yes.

  2. I love your topics, Bob, always something interesting to ponder here.

    I think healthcare costs are way too high. At least for me they are. Before being unemployed I was paying around 200 a month for medical, dental and vision. Now I am paying 333 per month for just medical (COBRA). My son has insurance throught his biological "father" but I pay all his co-pays and for his meds. He is about 2,000 in debt for hospital bills that I can't pay.

    Last year I paid about 12,000 for healthcare for the two of us. My needs are standard, his needs are obviously more specialized and required a few hospital stays, ambulance rides, etc. All of it adds up even WITH insurance.

  3. We pay far more than the $15K quoted. I guess it all depends on who you work for. Some jobs pay high % (even after you stop working!) Some companies negotiate better pricing because that have a lot of employees. Work for yourself or a small company and you have no leverage and no protection -- you pay the most. Out of work? Better hope you don't get sick. Maybe I should run for Congress just for the benefits.

  4. The impact of health insurance costs on the unemployed and small business owners is enormous. I often ask my pro-insurance-company friends why employment and health insurance should be tightly linked. IMO there is no good reason - it weighs down companies and creates a fear (of losing benefits) in employees.


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