Tag Archives: Life Expectancy

These are the world’s healthiest nations | World Economic Forum

Some statistics about the world’s healthiest nations, according to the World Economic Forum. You will notice that the first time the US is mentioned, is when we are listed as the nation with the most expensive health care.

Imagine if we actually had a “free market”, competitive system where providers of health care services could and would charge anything they wanted because there was no one to stop them? Actually, that is what drives the cost of drugs.

And you will see in the first chart, that many of the nations listed have some form of universal, single payer health care, where everyone is covered, and costs are lower, and have better outcomes.

While no males in every region shown in the second chart has a higher life expectancy, which is understood, since females live longer than males, females in Europe have the longest life expectancy, no doubt due to the better outcomes of their single payer systems.

And finally, in the fourth chart, the US is at the bottom of the bell curve for obesity for both men and women among all the Western nations, and Japan and South Korea. There is a strong correlation between the rankings from Bloomberg in chart 1, and the rates of obesity in chart 4.

So for you skeptics and opponents of single payer, here is the article with some very nice graphics that will help you see the light: 

Spain has cracked the secret to a healthy life, with a Mediterranean diet and publicly funded primary healthcare sending it to the top of the latest global rankings.

Source: These are the world’s healthiest nations | World Economic Forum

Medical Mystery: Something Happened to the U.S. Health System After 1980 | The Incidental Economist

Good morning all. While perusing my LinkedIn feed, I found this article from May of last year, and thought it would be a perfect addition to the series of articles posted last week about Medicare for All/Single Payer, and why opposition to it is more harmful than the alleged or imagined fear-mongering we are seeing from many quarters.

This is especially significant in light of my post last week, Health Care Is Not a Market, and as the article below suggests, the US health care system diverged exactly at the time of the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and the introduction of pro-market forces, supply-side economics.

So it is no coincidence that as Austin Frakt writes, that prices went up, while health outcomes went down, and that socioeconomic status and other social factors exert larger influences on longevity.

Here is the article:

The following originally appeared on The Upshot (copyright 2018, The New York Times Company). Research for this piece was supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Source: Medical Mystery: Something Happened to the U.S. Health System After 1980 | The Incidental Economist

No Paradox

Sometimes, the solution to a problem is staring you right in the face, but you refuse to see it because you are blinded by your perceptions, your beliefs, or the distortions others have placed in your mind by lies and falsehoods spread about the real benefits of the solution, or the downsides.

Case in point, the question of single-payer health care in the US. The health insurance industry and their lobbyists and defenders in Congress have done a great job poisoning the minds of many Americans against the idea of single-payer, whether on ideological or economic grounds.

Yet, many of these same Americans are getting some form of government-sponsored health care, either Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, or health care through the Veterans Administration. So, it was striking that before the enactment of the ACA, many Tea Party protesters shouted or carried signs that read, “Keep your hands off of MY Medicare!”

What they did not know or realize, was that it wasn’t THEIR Medicare, but the government’s Medicare. They were ones receiving the benefits.

So, it struck me this morning when I read an article by Tom Lynch of the Lynch Ryan blog, Workers’ Comp Insider.com.

The article, The American Health Care Paradox: A Lot Of Money For Poor Results, compares the US health care system with the health care systems of the OECD nations (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

The OECD has 35 members, of which the US is one, and was formed in Paris in 1961. They promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. It also performs annual comparative analyses of issues affecting its members.

Health care is one such issue, as is life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, and death rates from cancer, among other health care-related topics.

But regarding health care, as Tom reports, on a per capita basis, we spend 41% more on health care than our wealthy nation peers in the OECD, and 81% more than the entire OECD average.

The following graph indicates amount of public versus private funding of health care among the OECD nations, as well as the OECD average. The light blue bars indicate private funding; the dark blue bars indicate public funding.

OECD Health Care Funding — 2015

According to Tom, while our public funding (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) is comparable to many of the other countries in the OECD, private funding in the US is more than 100% greater tham Switzerland, and 300% greater than the OECD average.

Life expectancy:            US: 78.8 years (76.3 men, 81.2 women)
UK: 81 years (79.2 men; 82.8 women)
Japan: 83.9 years (80.8 men; 87.1 women)

Infant mortality:          US: 6.1% (per 1000 live births) 45% higher than UK at 4.2%, and 265%                                                higher than Japan’s at 2.3%.

Obesity and overweight rate is exceeded only by New Zealand. Finally, the rate of death from cancer per 100,000 people is 188, Mexico’s is 115, Japan’s is 177. But we lead the world in smoking cessation (whoopee!). So, I guess we can all breathe easier now than the rest of the world, especially the third world where so many start smoking at a very young age.

Into this discussion, Tom throws the current Republican tax plan, which he rightly says will throw 13 million people off of health care, and see $25 billion cut from Medicare.

Tom says that fixing health care will take time and a lot more money, and he is skeptical that the GOP tax scam will do that.

Duh! Of course it won’t. That’s the whole point of the tax scam and the umpteenth attempts to scuttle the ACA. They don’t believe in health care as a right for all Americans. It is in their DNA as Libertarian Conservatives. They are not Republicans, at least not like the two Republican presidents who tried to get health care passed, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

No, they want the money for their fat cat donors. They even said so publicly and bragged about it. And if all those votes to repeal and replace ACA didn’t convince you that they are fundamentally opposed to any government-sponsored health care, except their own, then you are blind.

The solution is staring you in the face on the above chart, Every other OECD member nation spends more publicly for health care than we do privately, and we are getting bad outcomes. Why is that? It is because health care is not like other consumer goods, and therefore should not be funded or marketed by private companies.

It is long past the time we should follow suit and do what every other OECD country has done, create a single-payer, improved Medicare for All system and stop fooling ourselves that the private market works. It does not, and the proof is in the metrics on cost, life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity and cancer deaths, etc.

“We’re No. 1!”, NOT! — Why the US Health Care System is Not the Best in the World and Why Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Comp Could Improve Outcomes

A discussion posted yesterday in the LinkedIn group, International Health Professionals – Certification and Education by the group manager, Scott Schneider, linked to a report by Bloomberg.com that ranked countries by the efficiencies of their health-care systems. The report titled, Most Efficient Health Care: Countries, listed 48 countries from around the world and ranked each country by three criteria:

  • Life expectancy (weighted 60%),
  • Relative per capita cost of health care (30%); and
  • Absolute per capita cost of health care (10%).

The countries were then scored on each criterion; the scores were weighted and summed to obtain their efficiency scores. Relative cost was defined as health cost per capita as a percentage of GDP per capita. Absolute cost was defined as total health expenditure, which covers preventive and curative health services, family planning, nutrition activities and emergency aid. The countries chosen had populations at least five million, GDP per capita of at least $5,000 and life expectancy of at least 70 years of age.

The data was acquired from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization and the Hong Kong Department of Health, and is current through November 2013, according to Schneider.

As seen in the table below, each country is ranked by their efficiency score, and each country’s life expectancy, health-care cost as a percentage of GDP per capita, and their health-care cost per capita are shown as well.

The US is ranked 46th overall, with an efficiency score of 30.8, just below that of Iran (yes, that’s right, Iran – you know, the country that calls us ‘The Great Satan’). US life expectancy is 78.6 years, which places it below Chile and above the Czech Republic, in 23rd place. Health-care cost as a percentage of GDP per capita for the US is 17.2%, which is the highest of all countries listed, so at least in one aspect we are number one, just not in the way most Americans think, especially those in the workers’ compensation industry who have criticized this writer for daring to suggest that medical tourism belongs in workers’ compensation because it promises lower cost health care with equal or better outcomes than what the American system provides currently.

Finally, the US is not number one in health-care cost per capita, but second at $8,608, just behind Switzerland at $9,121. While we are not the most expensive health-care system, we certainly do not get a lot of efficiency from the money we are spending. It is interesting to note that many of the countries with a higher efficiency score than the US are some of the major players or rising stars in the medical tourism industry. One major player that is not mentioned is India and one rising star that is not listed is Costa Rica. In the case of India, their population is certainly greater than five million, but it is likely that GDP per capita is not at least $5,000 and that life expectancy is less than 70 years of age. According to NationMaster.com, Costa Rica’s population was 4.57 million as of 2011, but their GDP per capita was $11,296.06 as of 2010.

So whenever you hear someone say “We’re No. 1”, especially when they are talking about health care, you can tell them, “no, we’re not”, and give them data to back that up. Chauvinism and exceptionalism are dangerous attitudes to hold at any time, but when a person’s health is at stake, and the need for care is not emergent, then perhaps it would be wise and prudent to consider alternatives to expensive surgeries that do not guarantee better outcomes just because they are more expensive. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” does not necessarily apply to health care, and the data bears that out. It is time the workers’ compensation industry admits it.

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