Insurance premiums just the tail of the health care elephant. Real solution requires taming costs, and repealing the Affordable Care Act won’t do that

Americans will always be at loggerheads about health-care reform until we stop acting like the blind men in the parable trying to describe an elephant by touching only one part of the animal.

Step back and look at the whole elephant in the room and you’ll see that the cost of health insurance is only the tail end of a much bigger problem.

Republican congressional plans had promised to cut premiums for many by reducing the number of people insured and what has to be covered, which does nothing to stop the real problem: the cancerous growth in health-care costs.

That’s because insurance premiums are largely driven by three factors: the number and health of people covered, what’s covered and, most important by far, the cost of delivering health care.

Do the math.

The United States spent $3.2 trillion on health care in 2015, according to the latest data available from the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services. That gobbled up 17.8 percent of our gross domestic product, more than any other nation, according to The World Bank (for worse outcomes on life expectancy, infant mortality and other measures, according to a 2014 study by The Commonwealth Fund.)

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