Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett calls Charlie Munger his partner. Munger, the vice-chairman of Berkshire and a Republican, says that single-payer is the way to fix the nation’s healthcare system.
“Having a basic level of care for everybody with no insurance aspect as a right I think is a good idea” Munger says.
Munger said he sees both good and bad in our current healthcare system, noting that the strength of of the American system is that it can tackle difficult types of cancer or acute care better than anywhere else. “The bad part is the Rube Goldberg system that arose by accident. There’s massive amounts of excess cost. There’s huge amounts of extending death so people can make more money, which is disgusting. There’s a lot wrong with system.”
“And of course the politicians on each side don’t want to figure this out, they just hate each other and scream at each other, so it’s a disgusting outcome. And of course the cost goes up three, four, five six percent a year! So there’s a lot wrong—and there’s a lot right.”
Munger’s fix, “A benign despot would create a single payer system with people being able to opt out into private care that was a little faster or a little fancier like all of Europe and Canada.”
Munger argues that the our healthcare system puts US manufacturers at a disadvantage when compared to Europe. US corporations have to pay for health care while European companies don’t.
Buffett expands on this idea. He sees healthcare as a bigger hinderance for business activity than taxes. “When American business talks about taxes strangling our competitiveness, or that sort of thing, they’re talking about something that as a percentage of GDP has gone down [from about 1960] from 4% to 2%, while medical costs, which are borne to a great extent by business, have gone from 5% to 17%,” he said.
“So, medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.”
At age 93, Munger doesn’t expect to see single-payer in his lifetime, but he is hopeful that young Americans will.