A number of Republican politicians and pundits have declared the US healthcare system "the best in the world". For the richest half of one percent of the population — like, say those Republican politicians and pundits — that might even be true. But how is it for everyone?
I've been wanting to graph this information for a while. I must be getting better, because I had the energy to pursue it today.
A crude but simple measure of how well a healthcare system works is how long people live - obviously, if you tend to die earlier, average lifespan is reduced. So what do the various countries get for their healthcare expenses?
I took data on healthcare costs from here, and data on life expectancy from here. The data is for the USA compared to a bunch of countries with some degree of public (i.e. government) involvement in healthcare (aside from just the elderly and veterans). The other countries are: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK.
I've seen it in words and numbers, but this makes the point very clearly. For the countries I had figures on, in 2004, the US paid more than twice as much in overall healthcare costs per person (adjusted for cost of living)... for easily the worst expected lifespan (2009 figures), almost a full year worse than the UK, which is easily the worst of the countries here (other than the US). Most of these countries manage to get more than two extra years per person average life span while spending less than half as much money.
I must be missing where the "best" part is.
Really, I don't think much more needs to be said.