U.S. Healthcare: How bad?

By two measures, we have the worst healthcare in the world.  By another measure, we’re 37th (the W.H.O. rankings).  By no stretch of the imagination are we good.  Our costs are the highest in the world.  Our health outcomes are the worst of any developed country we wouldn’t be embarrassed to compare ourselves to.  We’ve put together a little slide show with plenty of evidence.  So, WHY?  Five things come to mind, and since this is only a Half-Baked Idea post, we welcome your input:

  1. Our lack of national health insurance means we rely a lot more than other countries on private health insurance companies.  Private health insurance companies in this country spend between 12 and 18 percent on administration costs. The cost of administering Medicare is 2 percent.  So that’s 10 to 15% wasted, plus the profits those firms take.
  2. The extension of patent life to 20 years (a WTO standard) prevents generic drugs saving patients money sooner.
  3. Because we lack comprehensive health insurance, we have a very high rate of emergency room visits – which are very expensive – by the uninsured, homeless, and immigrants.
  4. The United States refuses to negotiate drug prices with Pharma – which is done in most other developed countries – and those prices have elements of oligopoly pricing, keeping prices high.
  5. And, since we do not have national health insurance, lots of people don’t get preventative care, or even needed care, which worsens our health outcomes.

One wonders if we nationalized health insurance, whether the reduced costs would cover the additional 8% of non-covered citizens AND reduce some costs due to better health maintenance and reduced E.R. dependency AND reduce per capita health costs.  It would certainly improve health outcomes.  But that’s fodder for a subsequent Half-Baked Idea…

To pause the slide show, hover the cursor over the image.  To move to another slide: a) click the arrows, or b) use the mouse wheel, or c) swipe left/right with the mouse. 

One surprise in those slides is that the only wealthy country SLOWER than the U.S. for access to a physician is Canada.  We’ve heard how slow Canada is, but lost sight of the fact that Everyone Else Is Faster.

Here are some links with supporting healthcare data, should you care to know more: