Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fix Healthcare to Fix the Economy

It's common knowledge that one of the biggest reasons people go into credit card debt is funding skyrocketing medical costs with their credit cards because our health care system is broken. People on the left of the politcal spectrum have been saying this long before Sicko* came out. But even conservatives, like John Maudlin, are seeing that one way to fix our economy is to fix health care. Maudlin compares the ratio of expenditure of Gross Domestic Product to Life Expectancy among several countries and comes up with these figures:
"According to the Economist the total US spend on healthcare is 15.4% of GDP including both state and private . With that it gets 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people, 3.3 hospital beds and its people live to an average age of 78.2
  • UK - spends 8.1% of GDP, gets 2.3 doctors, 4.2 hospital beds and live to an average age of 79.4. So for roughly half the cost their citizens overall get about the same benefit in terms of longevity of life.
  • Canada - spends 9.8% of GDP on healthcare, gets 2.1 doctors, 3.6 hospital beds and live until they are 80.6 yrs
  • France - spends 10.5%, 3.4 docs, 7.5 beds and live until they are 80.6 [years old]
  • Spain - spends 8.1% , 3.3 docs , 3.8 beds and live until they are 81 [years old]
  • As a whole Europe spends 9.6% of GDP on healthcare, has 3.9 doctors per 1,000 people, 6.6 hospital beds and live until they are 81.15 years old.

...in many cases...the healthcare system is better in the US than in some other countries BUT US citizens must therefore get ill more often than any other country in the West in order to achieve the truly appalling statistic that they are the 41 longest living nation on earth with France, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Andorra, Holland, Greece and Sweden all featuring in the top 20 longest living nations and the UK and Germany at 22.

This is the big failure of the US system. It is unforgivable. You may get a better chance of recovering from certain diseases but as a whole you will die younger in the US than most developed countries. ... Something is severely broken."

Check out the full article here on InvestorsInsight.com.

Of course, economic growth is stifled because many people put off treatments they can't afford and stay sick, only to get worse and lose their ability to work altogether. Or those lucky enough to be employed and have health insurance stay in dead-end jobs for fear of losing their coverage.

Kinda makes you want to write your congressperson, doesn't it? Check out this post from Consumerist.com for the most effective way to communicate with your elected representatives.

*Watching Sicko is the movie version of this argument, so check it out.