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Sometimes a picture is worth 10,000 words. Maybe this is one of those times, maybe not. In any event there is a reasonably good evidence for changing the way we do health care in this country. The fundamental question is whether health care is a right of the public just like police and fire protection or the court system. Is it fundamentally different and if so, what characteristics differentiate it?
When there is a crime, fire, or disaster don’t these affect all of us? The crime may not be against me but the police protect me from being a victim, my neighbor too. The same for fire protection. I pay taxes to support the fire department because, in the larger sense, I am my brother’s keeper. If my neighbor is hurt, I am in some respect diminished by his pain. If my neighbor becomes ill I cannot not care. Protecting my neighbor’s health is as important as protecting my own health.
But healthcare is not a public utility. It is an for profit industry where profit should not be an issue. This is an issue of the commonweal, and not a profit center for private industry. We would not stand for it if the police asked for our insurance ID when we call for service, neither the fire department.
What do we get in exchange for our 2007 medical dollar? This is complicated but perhaps life expectancy is a good rule of thumb. For a larger graph see http://blogs.ngm.com/.a/6a00e0098226918833012876a6070f970c-800wi
The National Geographic compares health care costs
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2009
My friend Magali Sarfatti-Larson wisely recommends that everyone carefully consider a striking chart put together by the National Geographic that lays out (a) health care spending per person and (b) average life expectancy in a range of affluent societies. (Per capita health costs are on the left, life expectancies are on the right.)
The United States spends more on medical care per person than any [other] country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year. Why the high cost? The U.S. has a fee-for-service system—paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn’t reliably improve a patient’s health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, “More care does not necessarily mean better care.” —Michelle Andrews
Jeff Weintraub For more see Jeff Weintraubs blog…