Friday, September 6, 2013



I don’t recall ever using the word ‘doozy before—it seems to belong to an earlier age—but clearly my subconscious thought otherwise. Writing never ceases to surprise me—normally pleasantly.

Back to the matter at hand.

While on the subject of quality of life—see yesterday’s blog—I thought it might be useful to follow up by providing some data on the World Standing of U.S. healthcare.

Now, many American friends have told me that “American healthcare is the best in the world,” so I thought I would a extract some gems from a recent Huffington Post article on a Bloomberg study of healthcare.

It's remarkable how low America places in healthcare efficiency: among the 48 countries included in the Bloomberg study, the U.S. ranks 46th, outpacing just Serbia and Brazil. Once that sinks in, try this one on for size: the U.S. ranks worse than China, Algeria, and Iran.

But the sheer numbers are really what's humbling about this list: the U.S. ranks second in healthcare cost per capita ($8,608), only to be outspent by Switzerland ($9,121) -- which, for the record, boasts a top-10 healthcare system in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, the U.S. is tops in terms of healthcare cost relative to GDP, with 17.2 percent of the country's wealth spent on medical care for every American.

In other words, the world's richest country spends more of its money on healthcare while getting less than almost every other nation in return.

The most remarkable finding in the Bloomberg survey would seem to be the fact that Hong Kong spends only 3.8% of its GDP ($1,409 per capita)on healthcare, yet life expectancy is an impressive (more like mind-boggling) 83.4 years.

The U.S. spends 17.2% of GDP on healthcare and life expectancy here is 78.62 years.

Those wily Orientals live nearly five years longer than we do, and spend so much less on healthcare, it is ridiculous.

In this blog, I write regularly about structural problems in the U.S.—but people ask: “What is a structural problem?”

Well, U.S. health and healthcare is a ‘mother of a’ structural problem (with apologies to Saddam Hussein for borrowing, and adapting, his epic phrase). It doesn’t work well, and it is siphoning money away which could best be spent on other things. It also holds down pay, impedes growth, puts people into debt, is a major cause of bankruptcy, and makes us less competitive that we might otherwise be. And Americans tend to be sicker than the inhabitants of other nations as we age.

Why do we put up with this disastrous situation? Arguably, because such a large percentage of the population is drugged to the eyeballs—with prescription drugs at that. 



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