What do “those decadent Europeans” understand?

Andrew Sullivan concluded his most recent post on emergency health care with two questions.

[1] In what field of human activity is a free market system consistently far less efficient than a socialized one? [2] Why are those decadent Europeans actually more efficient in providing healthcare than we are?

My answers:

  1. Any field for which there are severe market failures — health care being one — is one for which a socialized approach has the potential to help.
  2. “Those decadent Europeans” seem to understand this. Moreover, international comparisons are consistent with the hypothesis that a more socialized approach does, in fact, help.

Here are the inputs:

Here are the outputs:

Not the same set of countries, I know, but there is some overlap. However, the story is the same no matter what set of rich, industrialized countries you choose. The US spends vastly more (even controlling for wealth), that spending is tilted more heavily toward private spending than is that of other OECD nations, and nearly all US population health outcomes are nowhere near the top of the heap.

(If you object to the spending figure above because it doesn’t control for wealth, check out the figure in Aaron’s prior post.)

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