07 September, 2009

Fun with health care wonkery

In honor of the news that Max Baucus has finally released his plan for the Senate Finance Committee's version of a health reform bill, I present some interesting and edifying links to health care wonkery, via Frontline. (h/t TPM)

  • First, the Four Basic Models of health care delivery. Every country in the world has one of these, or a mixture of these. Fun Fact! Quintessential badass Otto von Bismarck invented the welfare state as a nation-building mechanism.
  • Next, a side-by-side comparison of the health care systems of five capitalist democracies: Germany, the UK, Japan, Taiwan, and Switzerland.
  • Finally, a series of graphs comparing health statistics of the US and other industrial democracies: health care as % of GDP, life expectancy, infant mortality, and prevalence of high-end technology. (Hint: Japan wins big on this one)
I also liked Frontline's description of the convoluted mishmash of health care delivery systems that is the United States:

These four models should be fairly easy for Americans to understand because we have elements of all of them in our fragmented national health care apparatus. When it comes to treating veterans, we're Britain or Cuba. For Americans over the age of 65 on Medicare, we're Canada. For working Americans who get insurance on the job, we're Germany.

For the 15 percent of the population who have no health insurance, the United States is Cambodia or Burkina Faso or rural India, with access to a doctor available if you can pay the bill out-of-pocket at the time of treatment or if you're sick enough to be admitted to the emergency ward at the public hospital.

The United States is unlike every other country because it maintains so many separate systems for separate classes of people. All the other countries have settled on one model for everybody. This is much simpler than the U.S. system; it's fairer and cheaper, too.

A whole new meaning for "American exceptionalism"...exceptionally cruel and inefficient.

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