Friday, November 14, 2008

A note about healthcare in America

An article over at ARS Technica talking about a new report from the Commonwealth Fund sparked me to put virtual pen to paper to lay out some of what I think is important to health care in America.

I'll leave you to read the article and/or the Commonwealth Fund report, but here is what I found most interesting:

  • Of the 8 nations who were included in the report the US was the only nation who did NOT provide universal health care coverage.

  • Costs per patient per year are more then double in the US over other OECD nations.

  • 15% (40 million or so) of the US population has no health care coverage.

  • The US Ranks at or near the bottom of nations in the developed world for the following metrics:

    • Life Expectancy

    • Infant Mortality

    • Years Without Disease (disease adjusted life expectancy



Of the 8 nations included in the report all except the US provided universal healthcare. Each goes about it in a unique way, some providing a mix of public/private providers, some have no private insurance, some have copays to a certain limit based on income, some provide completely free access.

Of the patients involved in the survey all said that the systems needed improving, but those in the US system had the greatest number of negative things to say. We complained about the amount of time (as well as the Germans) it took to get care, the relevance (as well as the French) of the care we got, and the cost (as well as no one LMAO) of our care with 41% of us saying the care cost $1,000 or more in the last year.

More then half (seriously!?!?) of the us participants said they skipped prescriptions or care because of the cost associated.

Apparently the ONLY metric that the US was ahead of the pack on was providers involving patients in care.

This is all very interesting to me. When I speak with my friends who oppose universal health care some of the items they cite as reasons to stay away are:

  1. Waits are longer for services

  2. Service quality suffers

  3. Services for life threatening items take too long


It seems that 1 & 2 are really just not true. Sure you will have some cases, but that is true in any system, and on average the 750-2,600 adults from each country who took part in this report seem to think that there is less wait in a universal system. In addition they have higher quality of life (infant mortality is lower, years without disease is higher, life expectancy is higher).

As for point 3, I think the argument is largely moot when we have 40 million people in this country uninsured. Not getting services because you can not afford the treatment is far worse having a wait for the services.

Now I have some specific statistics I can call on when I'm debating this with my friends.