Tuesday, April 08, 2008
ECON 365: Health Care -- Overview of Problems
(1) It is not very cost effective. We spend alot (approx $6000 per capita) and costs are rising fast (health insurance premiums have risen approx 80% since 2000; health care spending as a percent of GDP rose from 7% in 1970 to 16% in 2005 and is expected to rise to 21% by 2020). This is substantially higher (about double) than what other industrialized countries spend, but Americans' have mediocre health outcomes relative to other countries (so it is hard to argue that our high spending is associated with substantially higher quality).
While it is hard to measure the overall health of an entire population, America ranks very low on a number of common measures. E.g., healthy life expectancy at age 60 is 18 years for women and 15 years for men in the US, but 19 and 16 in Canada and 20 and 17 in France; infant mortality in the US 7 infant deaths per 1000 live births, but only 5.2 per 1000 in Canada and 4.1 per 1000 in France; and the US has 115 deaths per 100,000 people below age 75 that were potentially preventable with timely and appropriate health care, in Canada there are only 92 per 100,000 and in France only 75 per 100,000. Source: Commonwealth Fund National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2006.
(2) A significant (and growing share) of our population lack access to adequate health care. Approximately 45 million Americans lack health insurance (in contrast to the universal coverage in many other industrial nationas). Furthermore, 25 percent of Americans don't visit a doctor when they have a medical problem because they can't afford it (in contrast to only 4 percent of Canadians, 12 percent of Germans, or 2 percent of Britons).
The link below contains several other Health Care factoids:
Health care by the numbers.
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