If you've been following the presidential campaign recently, chances are you heard Vice President Dick Cheney claim that the U.S. has "the best healthcare system in the world". According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) last World Health Report though, the U.S. system ranks only 37th in the world, far behind other OECD countries and just slightly ahead of Cuba. While the WHO's study has some flaws, it does offer a balanced evaluation of healthcare systems' overall output (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc...) and costs ($ spent per person, % of GDP dedicated to healthcare). As such, it is extremely hard to believe that Mr. Cheney's declarations are grounded in reality rather than in shameless political exploitation of the population's ignorance about foreign healthcare systems. More importantly, the U.S.' poor showing in the WHO ranking raises some fundamental questions about a healthcare system that is costly, unfair, and of inconsistent quality despite its dynamic innovation.
To start, U.S. healthcare coverage is one of the most incomplete and unequal in the developed world. Forty-five million people, (i.e., one in six Americans) are not covered by any health insurance. The richest 5% of the population account for 55% of total healthcare spending while the bottom 50% of the population account for only 3% of total spending. Furthermore, standard health insurance plans typically cover a lot less services than the most basic European health insurance schemes. Falling sick can quickly turn into a horrendous financial nightmare for most Americans and their families. For some people, taking care of one's health is simply not in the cards. As a result, life expectancy at birth is about a year shorter in the U.S. as compared to the OECD average, U.S. immunization rates against viral diseases are lower than average, and infant mortality is significantly higher than in other developed countries.
Further, the U.S. healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, both in absolute and in relative terms. Costs have steadily risen quicker than in any other developed country since the early 1980's and worryingly spiraled out of control over the past few years. While U.S. healthcare spending per capita was in line with other OECD countries in the 1980's, it has now surpassed $5,000/person in 2003, (i.e., more than twice the OECD average). Healthcare costs have risen at a 7% annual rate during President Bush's presidency, or twice as fast as GDP. Healthcare spending now represents more than 14% of the U.S. GDP, far ahead of second and third-highest ranked Switzerland (11% of GDP) and Germany (10-11% of GDP). Despite Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush's optimistic beat, the U.S. healthcare system's high costs are particularly troubling considering that the U.S. population is significantly younger than the European population, a place where healthcare is comparatively cheaper.
In particular myths about welfare.
Little bit biased but apparently they've become worse, without going into the WHO's pdf's that are very long winded, but if you want to. And if anyone has a concise breakdown, I couldn't find it but apparently Canada and the US are 30th and 37th, ranked by bang for buck, or what you get for your dollar based on mortality, infant mortality, people without adequate healthcare etc,etc.
With this in mind do you think North America's healthcare systems are overpriced don't perform well, and in the case of the US don't tally well with Europe. Why do you think this is or don't you?
13.4% GDP compared to Englands 6.6% GDP? It's not any better now, what are the reasons for the cost? And do you think you need to improve, get up the table to the best European healthcare systems? Or do you think that to do so is socialism and therefore to be fought against at every turn. In a nutshell why does your system proclaimed the best in the world, actually in reality not rank very highly?
If you want to wade through this.