Admitting that he's not an expert in health-care, political heavyweight and investment tycoon Warren Buffett is recommending America scrap its health-care system in favor of a British-style single-payer, state-run plan.
The Berkshire Hathaway CEO said America "can afford" to provide all Americans with government health care.
A single-payer program is "probably is the best system," Buffett said Monday in an interview on PBS's NewsHour. "Because it is a system, we are such a rich country, in a sense we can afford to do it. But in almost every field of American business, it pays to bring down costs. There's an awful lot of people involved in the medical -- the whole just the way the ecosystem worked, there was no incentive to bring down costs."
Buffett, who at an estimated net worth of $73.3 billion is the fourth wealthiest man in the world, said putting government in charge of health care would be "more effective" than market reforms at lowering costs.
Here's a transcript:
WOODRUFF: "Something that affects all businesses is the cost of health care in this country and you've been vocal about that. You argue right now, in fact, that the cost of paying for health care can affect a company even more than taxes."
BUFFETT: "Well it does. I mean in terms of our competitiveness in the world; health care in 1960 was 5 percent of GDP. And there's only a hundred cents to the dollar. So it's gone from 5 percent to 17 percent. And it keeps going up. Corporate taxes have gone down from 4 percent to 2 percent. So corporate taxes are way less of a factor in American competitiveness than overall business than medical costs."
WOODRUFF: "As we sit here today in Omaha, the Republicans in Congress are madly trying to figure out what to do to replace ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act. Do you have a firm idea in your mind what ought to be done about ObamaCare? Everybody acknowledges there's been some problems."
BUFFETT: "I think that's way outside of my circle of competence. But I would say this. You can't have that five go to 17 and move on to 20 and 22 or 24 percent, because there are only a hundred cents in the dollar. Health care is gobbling up well over $3 trillion a year. It's just about the same as federal, the federal budget, I mean it's getting up there."
WOODRUFF: "Are we now at the point where the country does need to think about some sort of single-payer system in some more or another?
BUFFETT: "With my limited knowledge, I think that probably is the best system. Because it is a system, we are such a rich country, in a sense we can afford to do it. But in almost every field of American business, it pays to bring down costs. There's an awful lot of people involved in the medical -- the whole just the way the ecosystem worked, there was no incentive to bring down costs."
WOODRUFF: "It sounds like what you're saying with a single payer system it's easier to figure out a way to?"
BUFFETT: "More effective, I think."