May 06, 2004

US Healthcare: Spending More, Getting Less

Americans have been told for decades that although it is too bad we can't cover everyone with health insurance, for those who can afford insurance, the health care they can get is the best in the world. We are told that Americans would never put up with the low rent socialistic healthcare that other first world countries provide their citizens because we would lose destroy the best healthcare system in the world.

Would you be surprised to know that a study shows that we don't even get as good of outcomes as those other countries that do a better job of covering their citizenry while spending half the money per capita?

"It is somewhat outrageous that we spend $1.4 trillion on health care and get it right only half the time," said Elizabeth A. McGlynn, associate director of Rand Health and a lead author of the study, published yesterday in the journal Health Affairs. "We're just spending a lot of money on health care that is not getting us what we need."

Rand, a respected, nonpartisan research firm, has produced a series of influential studies on quality and cost issues in health care.

"No matter where you live, you are at risk for poor care," said Eve A. Kerr, a co-author based at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health Care System in Michigan.

The journal packaged the study with a second one reinforcing the finding that although Americans spend far more per capita on medicine, their health is not noticeably better than that of people in other countries. The five-year study by the Commonwealth Fund found wide gaps in how the United States and four other countries performed on such measures as breast cancer and leukemia deaths, asthma deaths, suicide rates and cancer screening.

"The United States should be particularly concerned about these results, given that we spend twice as much on health care as any other country. So spending more doesn't necessarily result in better outcomes," said Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

So why should we pay so much for so little?

Posted by Mary at May 6, 2004 11:09 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | Technorati links |

And yet, mysteriously, the favorite argument against universal health care is that it's too expensive. Funny, that.

Perhaps it would be, if along with paying for universal health care, we continued to subsidize the reckless investing habits of our insurance companies.

Posted by: natasha at May 7, 2004 06:50 AM

The article does not include the table which I sent to Paul Krugman showing per capita health costs and men's and women's life expectancy in various countries.

per capita spending on health men's life exp. women's life expectancy
US 4499 73 79
UK 1747 74 80
Canada 2058 75 82
Japan 2908 76 82
Germany 2422 73 80
France 2057 74 82
Australia 1698 74 81
Italy 1498 74 81

Posted by: Koch at May 9, 2004 10:44 AM

I think you've got to throw toxic exposure into the mix, i mean i live in NJ, and I'm guessing the air is better in Canada and Australia...that means less asthma and other industrial diseases....just some food for thought

Posted by: dan at May 9, 2004 05:07 PM