Comparing US healthcare to healthcare in other countries has become the pundit’s crutch—pro-socialization fans praise other countries, and conservatives say the US is best. We hear anecdotal examples of why another country is better or worse. But one study compared the US with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and England. And another data source turned up interesting facts about the French healthcare system. Research by The US Report found key differences in per capita GDP.
An analysis at Health Affairs said, “In 1999 the Commonwealth Fund convened a working group of quality measurement experts from governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, and the United States, along with academic researchers and representatives of institutions involved in medical care quality measurement.4 This group examined a variety of working definitions of quality, ultimately choosing one developed by the IOM: ‘the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.’”
One conclusion reached: “The comparisons on this initial set of quality indicators show that each country performs well in some areas and poorly in others compared with other countries. Each country could improve the quality of care.”
That is what most with common sense would conclude without a study.
The US is often criticized for the costs consumers bear. An article from Investor’s Business Daily addresses one aspect of higher costs, commenting on delivery of drugs in France: “Drugs developed in America at enormous expense do cost less in France, which decides what drugs are to be used and at what prices. American patients in effect subsidize the French, who take the same pills at half the price because American pharmaceutical companies don't want to lose the French market…French taxpayers fund a state health insurer, Assurance Maladie. Assurance Maladie has run in the red since 1989, and this year's shortfall is expected to be 9.4 billion euros ($13.5 billion) and 15 billion euros in 2010, about 10% of its budget.”
The Commonwealth Fund study did not address per capita GDP or populations. Here are figures The US Report pulled from the CIA World Factbook:
•US population: 307, 212,123/per capita GDP= $48,000
•Australia population: 21,262,641/per capita GDP= $38,100
•Canada population: 33,487,208/per capita GDP= $$39,300
•New Zealand population: 4,213,418/per capita GDP= $27,900 (2008 est.)
•England population: 61,113,205/per capita GDP= $36,600
With healthcare reform generating dialog and questions from voters across party lines, it’s important to offer facts, especially when comparisons to other countries are given. It’s important to also talk about concepts of healthcare reform. The working man wants more reasonable prices and better benefits, goals the current proposals will likely not meet.
Cuba, widely praised by some Dem lawmakers and leftwing extremists in the entertainment business, was not included in the Commonwealth Fund study. The communist state of Cuba has a per capita GDP of $9,500.