Ezra Klein has a must read column today on international health care systems and spending:
Everyone knows — or should know — that the United States spends much more than any other country on health care. But the Kaiser Family Foundation broke that spending down into two parts: the government’s share and the private sector’s share (both measured as a percentage of total gross domestic product), then compared the results to figures from 12 other countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. And here’s the shocker: Our government spends more on health care than the governments of Japan, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Canada or Switzerland.
Whenever I teach my Health Policy and Economics class, students inevitably become exasperated and claim they don’t want a nationalized health care system. Some rebel against a single payer system. The problem is that they think that, other than the US, that’s all that exists. They believe that all other countries are single-payer systems or worse.
They’re not. The health care systems in the chart above all employ varying levels of private insurance. What they do have in common, however, is significantly more government involvement. There’s more government regulations, more government cost controls, more government negotiation. In our country, many are pushing the other way. They want more privatization and less regulation.
Look at the chart. They’re all beating us. They have far cheaper systems. Their outcomes are similar to ours, often better. And they cover everyone.
Think about what they have in common, and whether it’s smarter for us to try and move in the direction that has worked, or to move further away, in a direction that hasn’t.