Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Blended and Confused Health Care System

Here is one of the most interesting articles on health care around the world that I've read. It's by T. R. Reid, a well-traveled reporter for the Washington Post. Here's an excerpt:

U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in
the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs,
such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance
industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on
administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government
bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of
the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this
figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government
for wasting money.

The world champion at controlling medical costs is Japan, even though
its aging population is a profligate consumer of medical care. On average, the
Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the U.S. rate. They have
twice as many MRI scans and X-rays. Quality is high; life expectancy and
recovery rates for major diseases are better than in the United States. And yet
Japan spends about $3,400 per person annually on health care; the United States
spends more than $7,000.

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