U.S. Healthcare System – Is it Any Better ?

We have discussed about the U.S. healthcare system before a few times. On Thursday, the President hosted a day-long televised healthcare summit. It ended without a deal after many hours of bickering by both the parties. Its been more than a year since the President took office and yet the healthcare debate still rages on this country with no end in sight. Thousands of  hours have already been wasted by all those involved including lobbyists, politicians, company executives, media pundits, etc. discussing the pros and cons of the health care reform proposals.

From a BBC news report today:

“The president and his allies want to expand health coverage to include millions of uninsured Americans.

Republicans said his plans were not acceptable and called for a fresh start.

In his radio address, he said he remained “eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties”.

“It’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to act.

“It’s time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and future generations. So, let’s get this done.”

None of the proposals put forward by the administration or the Republicans addresses some  the key issues that should be the main points of any discussion of the U.S. healthcare system. Two of them are the soaring costs and the inefficiencies in the current system.

The chart below shows the comparison of some of the healthcare factors between the U.S. and a few other countries:


Source: WHO data via The Guardian

The  U.S. spends the highest on a per capita basis on healthcare and has only 26 doctors per 10,000. Germany spends a bit above half the US spending and still has more doctors, hospital beds and a higher life expectancy. There is a precipitous drop in per capita spending from the U.S. figure to the next highest spending country Canada. Japan also spends much lesser than the U.S. and yet the Japanese have a higher life expectancy, more midwives and hospital beds. Clearly the U.S. healthcare system needs a much complete and thorough analysis and redesign than the ones currently under discussion.

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