October 18, 2006

A Lesson from Europe on Healthcare

David Leonhardt:
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column arguing that this country’s increased medical spending over the last half-century has, on the whole, been overwhelmingly worth it. Thanks to new treatments for everything from premature births to heart attacks, human life has continued to lengthen — defying expectations — even without major improvements in public health. Yet, strangely, we talk about medical spending as if it were nothing more than a drag on the economy, rather than an investment in the most important thing of all: our well-being.

I received about 500 e-mail responses from readers, and the most common reaction was a version of a simple question. “Why do Americans spend so much more than folks in most other developed countries while getting worse results?” as Sumati Eberstadt of East Greenwich, R.I., wrote.

In Greece, the government and individuals combine to spend about $2,300 per capita on health care each year, and the average life expectancy is 79 years. Canada, where the hospitals are probably cleaner, spends about $3,300, and people live to about 80. Here in the United States, we spend more than $6,000, yet life expectancy is just below 78.
Posted by James Zellmer at October 18, 2006 9:52 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Business | Health/Fitness | Politics