A painful reminder – we spend more but don’t live as long

December 12, 2011 in International Health Care

In the US, we spend more on health care than any other country in the world. The latest report from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Health Care at a Glance 2011 confirms the disturbing facts.

This chart confirms that we, in the US, don’t have a lot to show for all this extra spending.

And the picture isn’t getting any better. Costs in the US continue to rise faster than anywhere else.

Why do we put up with this?

1 response to A painful reminder – we spend more but don’t live as long

  1. Martha, there are majjor statistically-oriented problems with these oft “repeated” OECD numbers:

    – The OECD countries don’t measure the cost of long term healthcare consistently; the OECD posts this warning prominently on its related website. We know that about 33% of the US number is for long term healthcare — not healthcare costs as we typically think about them — but we don’t know if all the other numbers from other countries are apples to apples (and given the OECD warning they most likely are not)
    – The OECD uses an exchange rate-purchase/parity comparative mechanism that translates costs into US$. I am not sure how this exactly affects the statistics but I would think unfavorably vs. the heydays of US$ value
    – Most of these counties have homogenous populations. Vs. the US, I doubt if any of the other countries has such a percentage of its population made up of citizens of the other countries (not just the ones shown but the countries in the entire set that makes up the often-quoted OECD average)
    – Sadly, because of WWII, many of these countries do not have a “greaest generation,” which is the major driver of U.S. healthcare costs

    (Or maybe the US thinks it’s healthcare is better and doesn’t mind paying for it :) )

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