Thursday, July 30, 2009

US Health Care in Comparison

Commentators much more capable than myself are weighing in on the important health care debate taking place in Washington D.C. However, given the historic magnitude of the Obama Administration's push for health care reform I have decided to diverge from my usual focus to humbly remind my readers exactly why the American system needs fixing. Let's put it in perspective.

According to the OECD Health Data 2009 the United States' performance is comparatively lacking on all fronts. The OECD is comprised of the world's wealthiest nations with the highest living standards. Unfortunately, for citizens of the United States, our system spends much more and covers less people.

Spending More
"Total health spending accounted for 16.0% of GDP in the United States in 2007, by far the highest share in the OECD. Following the United States were France, Switzerland and Germany, which allocated respectively 11.0%, 10.8% and 10.4% of their GDP to health. The OECD average was 8.9% in 2007."

Covering Less
"For this amount of expenditure in the United States, government provides insurance coverage only for the elderly and disabled (through Medicare, which primarily insures persons aged 65 and over and people with disabilities) and some of the poor (through Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, SCHIP), whereas in most other OECD countries this is enough for government to provide universal primary health insurance."
The United States has fewer doctors per-capita than any other OECD country. We also lag behind world leaders in increasing life expectancy and declining infant mortality rates. This is all despite being the world's wealthiest country. The reason? Unlike most other industrialized OECD nations, the US does not have a universal health care system. Even the current reforms being advocated by President Obama fall short of providing universal quality care for every American. Furthermore, the administration left the single-payer option off the table which would have been the most efficient cost cutting mechanism. As a country that prides its self on being the "best" in the world, health care should offer every American a powerful dose humility.

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