America’s dirty little secret – as a nation, we pay more for healthcare and the results are far from worth it.
All of the top 50 major nations have far lower per capita healthcare costs. More than half enjoy much longer life expectancy. None of them, except Switzerland, are privatized, and their per capita medical costs are often a tiny fraction of what America pays.
There are not just a few isolated cases of countries paying less and their citizens living longer than us.
It occurs where you might expect: United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, France, Canada, New Zealand, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Italy and Spain. The difference between them and us – no profit motive there by pigs in boardrooms, or media bull from Wall Street.
All of those nations spend less per capita, and their citizens on average live longer than Americans.
The same disparity is true for some places you wouldn’t expect: Chile, Costa Rica and Lebanon.
How can this be? Aren’t we told by both political parties that “competition” lowers costs, improves quality, and keeps malingerers from wasting dollars with unnecessary treatments. (Ah, the joys of a night in an I.C.U. hospital bed!)
The capitalist icon – Bloomberg News – surveyed other nations to determine healthcare efficiency. I don’t know what they expected to learn, but the result was “the U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans – 78.7 years – was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories.”
The U.S. had the second-highest per capita spending on health care at $9,536. Switzerland’s average, based on gross domestic product was $9,818. But that $282 supplement helped deliver an extra 4.2 years of life — with the average Swiss lifespan of almost 83.
It some cases it is shameful, nearly unbelievable:
Compared to residents of the Czech Republic — which had an average life expectancy almost on par with the U.S. – Americans spent more than double on health care relative to GDP, 16.8 percent versus 7.3 percent. Health spending in the U.S. is estimated to increase to 18 percent of GDP in the U.S., according to estimates from the Altarum Institute.
The Czech Republic manages to compete with U.S. medical care by investing one-seventh of the dollars we spend per person. Costa Ricans live longer and spend one-tenth of what we do per person on medical care. They even live longer in often war-torn Lebanon, spending $645 per person per year, versus our $9,536.
Germany was next from the bottom (after Switzerland and the U.S.) in efficiency rating at 11%, but that’s still one-third less than America. You live longer in the land of beer and sausage, and their cost for healthcare is less than half the dollars per person we spend.
Time to stop repeating capitalist catechism and begin using common sense – from actual results – to decide our solutions to a broken healthcare system that costs too much, protects too little, and proves us fools for accepting less too long.