Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

American Exceptionalism

The good people at New England Journal of Medicine have made available, free, to the Great Unwashed, an interactive graphic that lets you compare various categories of health care spending among the wealthy countries. I expect everyone to have fun checking it out but here are a few points that might surprise you.

Obviously, the U.S. spends far more per capita than any other country -- we already knew that.

But, what you might not have known:

Government spending per capita is higher in the U.S. than in any country but Norway.

Out of pocket spending per capita is higher in the U.S. than in any country but Switzerland. (Congrats Anna, you beat us there.)

Spending on inpatient care is higher in the U.S. by far --actually about double the #2 country, which in this case is Switzerland.

Private insurance spending in the U.S., at $2,877 per capita beats the number 2 country by more than 5 times. Can you guess who is #2 on this one? It's Canada, at $555.

The U.S. is #1 in public health services, but only by a tiny bit -- $272 per capita, compared with $261 in Canada. But our total spending on health care is $8,175. In other words, we spend 30 times as much money trying to fix sick people than we do preventing disease.

This is a ridiculous, inexcusable, disgraceful waste. Making people buy private insurance and pay out of pocket isn't even saving tax money -- we spend more taxpayer money on health care than just about everybody else anyway. If we had a single payer system that was as cost-efficient as Canada's, we could cover everybody with excellent health care for the same amount of tax money we're spending right now, and you wouldn't have to pay one dime out of pocket. 


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