John Mauldin wrote about our healthcare problem last week. Not surprisingly, he received a bag full of email in response. Can’t vouch for these statistics, but they’re interesting:
There are many letters I could quote, but let me give you a counter for the statistics from last week from Raoul Pal of Spain. And of course, there are other statistics that can be brought in to make almost any case you want. But I found these to be very thought-provoking.
“Using the Economists World in Figures I think there is a very interesting and maybe appalling story to tell. In its simplest terms a healthcare system is there to extend the longevity of live of the population. It is the single best and simplest way to judge it because we can all find examples of where one country is better than another but the longevity stats don’t lie. When we use that framework the picture is incredibly different. The US has many of the best doctors and medical care in the world but it doesn’t work for the population as a whole and therein lies the problem.
“According to the Economist the total US spend on healthcare is 15.4% of GDP including both state and private . With that it gets 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people, 3.3 hospital beds and its people live to an average age of 78.2
“UK – spends 8.1% of GDP, gets 2.3 doctors, 4.2 hospital beds and live to an average age of 79.4. So for roughly half the cost their citizens overall get about the same benefit in terms of longevity of life.
“Canada – spends 9.8% of GDP on healthcare, gets 2.1 doctors, 3.6 hospital beds and live until they are 80.6 yrs
“Now if we look at the more social model in Europe the results become even more surprising:
“France – spends 10.5%, 3.4 docs, 7.5 beds and live until they are 80.6
“Spain – spends 8.1% , 3.3 docs , 3.8 beds and live until they are 81
“As a whole Europe spends 9.6% of GDP on healthcare, has 3.9 doctors per 1,000 people, 6.6 hospital beds and live until they are 81.15 years old.
“The list goes on. The truth is that in many cases as is pointed out the healthcare system is better in the US than in some other countries BUT US citizens must therefore get ill more often than any other country in the West in order to achieve the truly appalling statistic that they are the 41 longest living nation on earth with France, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Andorra, Holland, Greece and Sweden all featuring in the top 20 longest living nations and the UK and Germany at 22.
“This is the big failure of the US system. It is unforgivable. You may get a better chance of recovering from certain diseases but as a whole you will die younger in the US than most developed countries. … Something is severely broken.”
I had many letters from all over the world on this issue both pro and con. And some very lively discussions with health professionals. One pointed out to me that the uninsured in the US when they need a doctor often go to an emergency room for what should be a $50 office visit and end up with a $5,000 bill, which does not get paid and runs up insurance costs for those who do have it. As Dr. Mike Roizen points out in his many books, simply eating right, exercising and other common sense things would cut out much of our health care costs. When one-third of children in elementary schools are overweight, we need to get a grip on what we are doing to the next generation.
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