Health care costs 101

Great op-ed in the WSJ, which spells it out in simple language:

Reducing health-care spending isn’t hard: Just give the government control over the national health-care budget and you’ll see spending decline. Access to physicians and hospitals, the newest technology, important therapies and the best medications will also decline over time. But that’s the trade-off society makes when the government controls health-care spending.

It’s remarkable how gullible people are who claim, “Canada (or England, or France, etc.) manages to provide universal coverage for much less than the U.S. spends on health care.” They seem to think these other countries have reached some sort of economic nirvana. These countries spend less — usually between 8% to 10% of GDP versus nearly 16% in the U.S. — simply because health-care spending isn’t a function of consumer demand; it’s a function of political demand.

To those who say things like “Canada’s system isn’t adequately funded”, what makes you think that our government will adequately fund any federal health care plan? Take a look at how the our government-run, single-payer Indian Health Service is working out.

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  • Anonymous

    I think health is the most important of a human being and some times is very necessary to sepnd a lot of money to stay good. But, there are many ways to maintain a good health without a lot of money. I have an example: if you visit this website, you can find the cheapest meds.

  • Doc

    There is not evidence that the US system as it stands is the best. Outcome measures show that Europe and Canada, by most measures, are better. So how do we reconcile the data with economic theory?

  • Anonymous

    I, too hear this “Canada is underfunded” “UK’s NHS is underfunded” etc.

    If that’s the case, why are they not increasing the funding? They spend less on their military, where is the money going?

  • Anonymous

    Yup, government sponsored healthcare is such an abomination that KevinMD refuses to take Medicare money. Right? Hello?

    [Sound of Crickets Chirping...]

    The US is not the best in overall health care compared to other industrialized countries. The WHO report says we are No. 37, perhaps we are higher by some metric–by all means, supply one. But if every other industrialized country has government sponsored healthcare and the the available metrics show their overall healthcare to be better than the US then clearly it is possible to have successful government run healthcare, Kevin’ faux arguments notwithstanding…

    It is as if this blog is merely an automated anti-government healthcare aggregator designed to insure click traffic by pro-coroporate healthcare flacks.

    Not to worry, Dr. Pho, I’m sure your stance will mean more corporate largess will be headed your way…

  • RoseAG

    Private health insurance still exists in Canada and the UK. Not everybody wants to get by on just the basic coverage.

  • Anonymous

    The healthcare system that costs the least while providing basic primary care most readily is the one that is going to be most popular with the most people because most people are healthy most of the time. Any collectivized system is going to short the cancer patient in favor of the worried well because the later vote while the former, left poorly treated, isn’t going to be around to complain for long. So all the systems where distribution is made on the principle of collectivization naturally look better in polls.

    Life expectancy of a population is, once vaccines and clean water is privided, primarily a function of lifestyle, not healthcare. The benefits of providing a few more years to the sick is overriden by how long people stay health and don’t need the system. Health care that relieve suffering and enhances the quality of life, like hip replacements or less painful cholecystectomies don’t change the life expectancy numbers at all–and no health care system improves the life expectancy of a gangbanger shot in the forehead by his rivals.

    Once people get sick, Americans generally get better care and have longer life expectancies than sick Europeans or sick Canadians–the latter just don’t get sick quite as young on average because the walk more, get less fat, eat less, and don’t shoot or stab each other as regularly.

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