Source: The Incidental Economist



One of these things, is not like the other . . .

There are more charts at Forbes

Category: Data Analysis, Economy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

73 Responses to “Discuss: Health Care Spending by Age and Country”

  1. raincity says:

    Need to go back and check the original via the link you provide. It appears the chart is bogus.


    BR: The original source was Forbes — thats a pretty standard chart, and the data behind it is incontrovertible.

  2. Lyle says:

    As pointed out by several comments on the source post, this graph represents government spending only, Second it appears that the graph is one of several in the source article, which is located here: It does note however that in other countries the expenditure does go up by age ranging from 2x in germany to 4 to 8x in the UK, Canada, Japan and Australia. Note that due to the choice of scale for the graph this does not show up well. Much more interesting would be a graph including private payments for the US (for the under 65 crowd not on Medicaid)

  3. JFinTexas says:

    My good friend who is a surgeon buys a new Aston Martin every 1 and 1/2 year… That’s not necessary, sums it all up…

    Seriously everybody that’s in the system, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, big pharma, has a strong incentive for costs to go up, and there is no mechanism to control cost, so costs keep skyrocketing.


  4. george lomost says:

    For starters, medical education is vastly more expensive here. Then, nobody questions the assumption that doctors deserve to be wealthy, very wealthy, even though, as a percentage of available medical knowledge, today’s doctors know an ever shrinking amount.

    If you’ve ever been hospitalized you may have noticed the extraordinary amount of waste generated. Then check the markups on everything they use. Anytime a doctor looks into your room and glances at your chart you will be charged a ‘consultation fee.’

    Oh, before I forget: malpractice insurance. …

  5. eliz says:

    12 minutes with the MD to be told the same thing a chiropractor told me (for no additional charge, $35.00 total, 20-25 minutes): $140.00. Now I’ve switched to a “concierge” MD – I’d rather pay a retainer and know I will be listened to fully, and not rushed.

    The “health care” system in the U.S. — who is healthier and who is cared for? Can you say, “insurance company executives and lobbyists”?

  6. hammerandtong2001 says:

    Despite the negative implications regarding “cost” –

    Is there anywhere else where YOU would prefer to take your desincresingly high cist perately ill child or elderly parent – other than the US?

    That’s what I thought.

    The United States of America, absorbs as a cost of citizenry, the increasingly high cost directly associated with the humanitarian goal of human health care.

    And it will continue. Because it must.


  7. My health insurance is here, but there are lots of places around the world that provide equal or better care — and with less jingoistic flag waving nonsense, to boot!

  8. James Cameron says:

    From the post:

    UPDATE: Chart deemed bogus . . . This is, apparently, from a year 2005 study. There are many problems with the chart, as raised in the comments.

  9. martin66 says:

    IE site seems to suggest, per the comments there, that this chart is unsubstantiated by data that can be determined. Nice story but perhaps an untrue story. Surprised he, and you, have left it up.

  10. beaufou says:


    “Is there anywhere else where YOU would prefer to take your desincresingly high cist perately ill child or elderly parent – other than the US?”

    33 places according to UN data:

  11. James Cameron says:

    > The United States of America, absorbs as a cost of citizenry, the increasingly high cost directly associated with the humanitarian goal of human health care

    Well, the chart may be bogus, but the fact is if we don’t get our health care costs under control the story will end badly . . .

  12. JFinTexas says:

    For anyone doubting the data on this chart please review this presentation from Mary Meeker in 2011 :

    Data here slides 108 to 113 :

    (Anyway this presentation should be required viewing/reading for every American, or at least anyone concerned with the fiscal situation, it’s refreshing to hear someone speak intelligently and clearly of the issues in this time of Fiscal Cliff unnecessary manufactured drama)

  13. wally says:

    “…the increasingly high cost directly associated with the humanitarian goal of human health care”

    Its hard to accept that large amount spent by somebody who is about to die can legitimately be called “health care”. In the US it is often some sort of pre-death ritual for no real gain.

  14. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    We are exceptional (we’re also #1 . . . USA! USA! USA!).

  15. Ny Stock Guy says:

    Hey wait a minute. Isn’t that the “rate of death by gunshot” chart?

  16. Rightline says:

    CBS morning weekend had a good story about scooter fraud (link below) Sen. Corker cited 80% “error” (fraud) rate. One aspect which I believe is the tip of the iceberg is the advertising. Medical device and pharma companies advetise drugs and equipment as if it were a vacation to the carribean. Doctors are pressured by patients, either give me what I want (saw on TV) or I’ll find another doctor that will. Device companies send representatives in with patients to badger the doctors. This is in addition to our bad environmental, eating, and exercise habits.

  17. George says:

    According to the documentary “Escape Fire” and Dr. Lissa Rankin, United States citizens spend $2.7 trillion per year on health care, which amounts to $8,000 per person per year. Globally, the average health care expenditure is $3,000 per person per year. We spend more than $300 billion per year on pharmaceuticals, almost as much as the rest of the world combined. About 50% of Americans take drugs and they consume about 50% of the drugs produced worldwide even though Americans represent only 5% of world population.


  18. brianinla says:

    A question for BR: do you feel you should be paid more, less, or the same as a surgeon and why?

  19. wrongtrade says:

    Look, I have way to much to do to explain this to you people, so I’ll try to keep it short:
    “Players in Health Care”, or “Every Special Interest That has Never Really Been Addressed to Fix the Health Care Problem.”
    1) Physicians- there is way too much utilization. Any doctor can by and large order any test at any time, and any doctor can file a claim for reimbursement for any office visit or procedure reasonably within or even totally out of their area of expertise. How can insurance companies underwrite this? It is impossible for insurers to get granular enough to run their huge businesses and really keep up with what is happening on a clinical level. Insurers know INSURANCE, they know nothing about MEDICINE. I will say that docs as the hardest working sons-of-bitches that you’ll ever meet, and regarding
    “JFinTexas Says: My good friend who is a surgeon buys a new Aston Martin every 1 and 1/2 year… That’s not necessary, sums it all up… ”
    Any money manager not 1/10 as successful as BR could lease any number of luxury cars. So could my lawyer, accountant, etc. You simply are not going to get these bright people to go into educational debt and work their asses off for $100,000 annual pay.
    Docs are also making money on surgery centers, imaging centers and physician-owned hospitals. Because these types of businesses do tend to generate their own demand, some states wisely require a “Certificate of Need” before these businesses can be started. In areas that do not, there are waaaay too many of these everywhere.
    2) Lawyers. This is an easy one. The Democrats and lawyers are blocking tort reform which is a huge cost driver
    3) Hospitals. Huge profit centers that unbundle every charge they can, are always building more infrastructure and expanding yet poor outhing it as non-profit. The government does impose massive rules and regulations on hospitals that makes it more difficult for them to be profitable.
    4) Insurance Companies- if they don’t make money on you they either raise your rate or drop you. Why else would Warren Buffet choose insurance company (ies) as cash cow vehicles so early and often.They act like they are in the quality health business but really it is just ‘premiums in’ and ‘claims out.’ Anything they do or say about “quality” is nothing but code for controlling their claims loss. They don’t know anything about quality or even where to look, but that’s no excuse for doctors and hospitals and nursing homes and etc to take advantage of them, either. We would have more than enough money within our health care system with money left over if we only administered care that made sense and at the right times. Determining this would require nothing other than sober minds, common sense and honesty but all special interests mentioned here have successfully stymied outside forces and competing forces from within to protect the perversion that generates their profit.
    5)The American People wear two hats: one as patients, whose standard has become to have everything perfect instantly for free, and another hat as managers of the public finances and debt. As has been pointed out on this blog previously, everyone is for cutting costs unless it pertains to them. Most people are for raising taxes on anyone who makes just a little more income than they do. End of life care simply has to be addressed, as does overutilization for chronic disease and ridiculous andor repetitive complaints. “Technology” is held forth as the cure all for lowering health care costs but surprise! technology costs more. And trying to take advantage of scale in health care is difficult. Just try to see 10 pediatric patients with the same problem together and save everyone some time and money. Ha! Apart from the late Ted Kennedy’s HIPAA privacy law, it is human nature that everyone thinks that what they have is a) unusual and b) unusually severe, when in fact it is neither.
    6) Pharmaceutical Companies: we need competitive bidding on Medicare pricing, eliminate b.s. such as disallowing cost as a considerqaiton on whether to consider gov’t payment for a new drug, crack down on bogus extensions of patents garnered by minimalhanges in the formulation or delivery vehicle of drugs, stop listening to whining about R&D costs when drug companies bring the 10th “me too” drug in the same class on the market that offers no real contribution to the formulary.

    Note how everything interconnects: Patient expectations, overutilization, end of life care, tort reform, government regulations, hospital costs, immigration reform. It can only be addressed in a truly comprehensive way by those who both understand it and don’t have a special interest agenda. Obamacare is NOT such a thing. It is a disgrace, a mess cobbled together by lobbyists under the guise of saving money (Rahm didn’t want to waste a good banking crisis) which does not address the root of the problems and which will blow the top off health spending just as the free market (which has not been truly unleashed in this sector) was beginning to try to work (cost curve leveling off or bending downward).

  20. wrongtrade says:

    Medical Device manufacturers are lumped in with Pharmaceutical makers above, but perhaps should be singled out as particularly disgraceful profiteers whose advertising campaigns masquerade shameless profits as “advances in science” and “must have tretament options” when in reality they are entrepreneurs with treatments in search of indications. Seeking to insinuate their “tool” into the huge stream of health care dollars and extract a few easy hundred million with ruse or a quick sale to a bigger company.

  21. formerlawyer says:

    wrongtrade Says:

    Just a note, medical malpractice insurance is not a major cost driver in the ~$1.3 T dollar health care industry.

  22. formerlawyer says:

    Sorry, my comment was addressed to wrongtrade’s comment #2

    “2) Lawyers. This is an easy one. The Democrats and lawyers are blocking tort reform which is a huge cost driver”

    Mea culpa, from the article the estimate of $1.3T health care indutstry is low, it is actually $2.6 T,
    “We have a health care system that now costs $2.6 trillion dollars a year. Even using the high-end estimate of 0.5 percent a year in savings from medical tort reform, it is clear that malpractice is a drop in the bucket.”

  23. river says:

    Quote from above: “Any money manager not 1/10 as successful as BR could lease any number of luxury cars. So could my lawyer, accountant, etc. You simply are not going to get these bright people to go into educational debt and work their asses off for $100,000 annual pay.”

    That’s funny. It seems like all the other doctors in all the countries in the world do exactly that:

    But doctors making $150,000 a year are probably not the problem . . . it is probably all of the specialists that are making $400,000 a year that would be a bigger part of the problem.

    But, you are correct that there is the danger that if doctors couldn’t make that much in Medicine, they would go do something else to make that money since they are so smart . . . I don’t know what else they would do, but something else for sure. Maybe they would work for a hedge fund or something else in high finance . . . I mean, who doesn’t need more bankers? Otherwise, they should probably count their lucky chickens because there are not a lot of other places where you can make that kind of money as an employee.

    Remind me to barf the next time some idealistic medical student tells me that they went into the profession over a deep desire to help people.

  24. mezhoud says:

    For us French speakers, this graph is little understandable has cause of the positioning of the USA. We have in fact the feeling that the United States are little generous for the help to the health while the other countries present as Germany and Sweden they are better considered. In fact, it is doubtless a prejudice because many seniors which frequent my site for interventions tell me to choose a foreigner country because exactly they are not taken care in France

  25. honeybadger says:

    @hammerandtong2001 As an expat living in Luxembourg, a few stories for you: We discovered one afternoon that my wife had adult onset type 1 diabetes, as she was slipping towards coma. Ended up with a private room in intensive care for the weekend, followed by a private room for 8 days in the normal ward. We have the ‘normal’, state-funded insurance.

    I have kids, which means frequent doctor visits. I call our GP to get an appointment because the boy is not doing well. The receptionist says today is not a good day as they are very busy, and the soonest the doctor can see me is in an hour, would that be alright?

    Finally, could you please clarify ‘desincresingly high cist perately’? I am not familiar with those terms.

  26. honeybadger says:

    Ny Stock Guy

    You write: Isn’t that the “rate of death by gunshot” chart?

    Good question. You do know that about half of the US death by gunshot are suicides, and that our suicide rate is in line with the rest of the world (and less than Singapore, the world’s leader in gun control). The other half are strongly associated with urban poverty. These are the two factors which put us over the top on “gun related deaths.”

  27. ConscienceofaConservative says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that health care spending at the oldest age brackets is high. In this country we tend not to engage in preventative maintenance( e.g. healthy diet and exercise) which comes back to haunt us later in life in the form of disease. When we are truly sick and at the end, doctors will engage in anything and everything when its certainly more costly, less likely to cure and delay the ultimate outcome. How many of us get treated with a statin drug for cholesterol instead of running and eating a low fat low sugar diet and engaging in several hours of cardio activity each week?

  28. TLH says:

    Each person needs to decide how they are going to die. Money spent at the end of life is wasted, but look at it from a patient’s point of view. Medical treatment usually causes pain. Do you want to have more pain and die anyway? Everyone needs an end of life discussion. Sometimes less medical care is better.

  29. Lukey says:

    Obamacare only makes it worse – all access, no (or very little) cost control. At least until it forces a federal take over and single payer is implemented (probably in the early 2020′s) – just in time to start rationing care on the elderly baby boomers in the final years of their lives. Can you say “death panel?”


    BR: You already have death panels — they are called insurance companies.

  30. Lukey says:

    “Even using the high-end estimate of 0.5 percent a year in savings from medical tort reform, it is clear that malpractice is a drop in the bucket.”

    That’s just the insurance cost. What percent of all care is CYA against a malpractice claim? I don’t know but I’d be surprised if it is less than 5% – or $130 billion at a $2.6 trillion level of spending. That ain’t chump change!

  31. charlie says:

    I’m posting this from Epcot/Disney World where I’m seeing at least 25% of American “guests” size Obese ++. The above chart makes sense.

  32. Lukey says:

    I would never defend insurance companies Barry, any more than I would the federal leviathan. My ideal health care system would have government funded single payer health care but only for catastrophic care. Below that level you would self pay, insure yourself, or, for low income folks, get care at a charity facility on a sliding fee scale based on income.


    BR: But contra to your nonsensical GOP Talking point, we DO have Death panels, we DO have health services rationing, and we DO have an absurdly expensive system vs the rest of the world — all of which are driven by a For Profit private insurance system of health care. Its broken, and has been for decades.

  33. BennyProfane says:

    Yeah, wow, Disney World. I was shocked at the amount of fat walking around in shorts and too tight tops. And that was fifteen years ago.

    Eat only enough and well, exercise as a habit, and reduce stupid stress in your life. And don’t go running to a doctor for overpriced drugs every time you get a sniffle.
    And, I guess this chart tells us that we should have a living will that prevents the literally blood sucking hospital you end up in at the end to hook you up to five machines and allow twenty doctors to “consult” about you for weeks.

  34. Moss says:

    The doctors only care about prescribing meds, preforming surgery and maintaining an office visit schedule. I saw this first hand with my father who was overweight yet told he needed heart surgery at 84 years of age. I was against the surgery but he listened to the doctors. He was on 14 different pills by the time he got out.

    I nearly took a swing at his primary care doctor when I confronted her about why she never got him to lose weight first. She had no response nor did his cardio guy who was not the surgeon.

    He passed away about 1 year after this surgery, in and out of the hospital, costing untold $$$.

  35. A says:

    The best way to summarize the discourse, is to ask a fundamental question:

    In America, does Power & Profit take Precedence over People ??


  36. constantnormal says:

    Once Obamacare fails — and it will fail miserably, because it addresses only coverage and does pretty much nothing for costs — and employers wipe out the last vestiges of employee health insurance, and Medicare/Medicaid crumple under the soaring costs, perhaps then we can get motivated toward fixing this problem.

    But no sooner… Bananamericans cannot seem to get on board with the concept of dealing with problems before being run over by them … “proactive” is not in our national vocabulary, never has been, prolly never will be.

    Our biggest problem is that health care costs more here, with identical drugs (made by the same companies), and identical medical procedures, costing many times more in this country than elsewhere, with (slightly) poorer results.  While it is true that we waste too much on lawsuit avoidance and pay out too much on malpractice suits (actual criminal negligence should be met by jail terms, not fines, and people should realize that there are risks, and suboptimal outcomes do happen), the real problem is that at every layer of our system (designed to extract money, not to improve health), there is overcharging and a spillover of the corruption and fraud that is embedded throughout our society.

  37. wrongtrade says:

    Jesus, Moss! Your father was 85 and fat and you are surprised that he died!! This is part of the patient expectation problem. Doctors do too much end of life care in my estimation, but tort reform and family counseling can help with this. It is not your father’s physician’s fault that he did not lose weight, nor did they strap him down against his will for these treatments (ever hear of informed consent?) I do not mean to be insensitive, but get a grip on reality, man!

  38. constantnormal says:

    BennyProfane has hit on something that we all should do, ASAP … set up a living will that restricts the amount of money that can be wasted on us when we are unable to manage things ourselves.

    I will never again enter an American hospital while I am still conscious and able to day “no”.

    I am too well aware of the consequences of allowing the hospital’s machinery to drive the process.

    Medical expenses, even in these times of vampire squids and feral banksters, remain the number one cause of personal bankruptcy.

  39. garyb says:


    How would you know this? This is, among others, the Michael Moore matra, but what’s your measure?

  40. garyb says:

    BR says: “but there are lots of places around the world that provide equal or better care”

    How would you know this? This is, among others, the Michael Moore matra, but what’s your measure?

    wordpress clipped my quote in earlier post.

  41. concerned bob says:

    i agree with moss. In our current system, doctors and hospitals have no incentive to have people healthy. They make money when people are in hospital/ visiting a doctor. hence they are not concerned with people taking steps to get healthy – like eat proper food, skip junk food, do exercise etc. when meds are prescribed, they make money. another person commented about ads for medicines – not reqd at all. no need for medical representatives – they add no value. either fix the incentives or else move to single payer system. there is a mode in medical insurance called capitation where a hospital or doctor is paid a fixed amount per patient for the year and the hospital/ doctor has now an incentive to make sure the amount spent is lowest – meaning the patient should be healthy. now implement that and we can make sure the patient and the doctor are focused on one common goal.

  42. Moss says:


    My point is that he should never have had the surgery.

  43. wrongtrade says:

    @ Moss,
    your father would be absolutely within his rights to refuse surgery, but I assure you that if docs are “recommending” (meaning, presenting it as an option vs. no surgery) heart surgery on an 84 year old, there is a reason such as calcific disease or valvular pathology. I suggest he would have died in a year WITHOUT the surgery, which is why it was presented as an option. I am not argiung with you- I probably would not elect to have had the surgery myself

    @ constantnormal regarding Obamacare and “our system (designed to extract money, not to improve health)” you are right on, man , nailed it!

  44. Robespierre says:

    Just for fun do we have a chart of the aggregate profits of the insurance companies, pharma and their executives? My guess is that you subtract that amount from the US you will get close to the other countries cost.
    The problem I have with Obamacare is that it is not single payer and that it was a gift to big pharma and the insurance companies

  45. AHodge says:

    i note the low level and cost rise for elderly in Sweden
    that tax pillaging welfare state
    remember if you dont want to spend your last 6 months in the US comatose
    tubes up your nose and mouth
    bedpan emptied and your nether parts cleaned and wiped 3x day
    you have to take active steps.

  46. Lukey says:

    Yes, I agree that we overspend (compared to others) but that is because, when everyone else is running single payer, the only way the medical device and pharmaceutical companies can recoup their costs is by over charging us. And I also take issue with most of the arguments that other systems fare so much better than ours. Our life expectancy stats are skewed because we have so much youth gun violence and driving carnage (compared to the other developed nations) and our infant mortality rates are inflated because we try to save so many early stage preemies that in other (even developed) nations would be labeled as “stillborn.”

  47. BennyProfane says:


    Yeah, my father spent the last ten years of his life wasting away from onset diabetes. Never was he told to lose weight or exercise or, get this, STOP SMOKING! He was a cash cow for these people to the tune of about 600 grand, in early 90s dollars.

    The medical industry is secretly overjoyed they have 73 million old Boomers heading their way in such bad shape. That’s a lot of Porsches and Vail second homes.

  48. AHodge says:

    my mom got bladder cancer that had spread to bone
    just said stop the blood transfusions
    we all flew out for 3 days
    she was conscious completely alert loving the first part and and peaceful the whole time
    it was a beautiful way to go–i recommend it including for meself when its time

  49. klgmd says:

    Moss, How exactly is the doctor able to “make” someone lose weight? Changing someone’s lifestyle habits is one of the toughest task we face in medicine. Do you really believe that the doctor never told your father to lose weight?? If that was all doctors needed to do, they would have everyone stop smoking, stop overeating etc. just by telling them to and trying to frighten them. That is an extremely naive thought process. Have you ever tried to get a friend or relative to lose weight or stop smoking? For you to blame the doctor is misplaced anger. Unless you were present at every visit and listened to all conversations your father with the doctor, you cannot assume that the doctor did not try. How often patients do NOT convey to family that they were told to change some behavior….is no surprise. Just imagine the guy whose wife is always after him to lose weight. He goes to the doctor and the doctor tells him the same. Now he goes back home and his wife says, “did the doctor say anything about your weight?”, and what does he tell his wife (as he opens the cookie jar) ???? Please don’t be naive or accusatory. People do NOT always (actually often do not) listen to doctors especially when it comes to lifestyle change.
    With regards to prescribing medications, what else do you think they can do. We don’t do voodoo or power drills, or magic. That’s like complaining that a carpenter uses nails. We do not have magic powers. Why didn’t the family make your dad lose weight? See my point? They cannot do it either if the patient does not want to lose weight.
    Patients can not be rescued unless they want to be.

  50. wrongtrade says:

    @ BennyProfane
    I hope you’re kidding. You are pathetic to blame the doctors for your father’s moral failings. Do you suppose they ever told him anything you didn’t hear? Do you suppose he ever hold his doctors aything you didn’t know? Pathetic.

  51. Donald says:

    Wrongtrade hit it. We don’t have a healthcare system, we have a disease management system where everyone takes a piece of the pie when you need medical attention. In some countries docs are paid to keep you healthy, not just treat you when you get sick.
    The other major issue is food. 66% of Americans are overweight and 33% are obese and heavier! Why should people who make a choice to live a healthier life (not live off Mickey D’s) have to share the cost of those who don’t take any responsibility for their health?

  52. AHodge says:

    yes we do have death panels and we need more of them
    specifically insurance limiting panels for both private and taxpayer coverage. and applied to specific cases where needed
    I’ll go right wing libertarian here
    if a family
    unlike mine
    wants to do the extreme for the last months of their loved one
    fine but pay for it youself, i have no problem with you mortgaging yourself
    to where you might yourself eventually need family help or run through inheritance money.

  53. BennyProfane says:


    I didn’t blame anybody. Of course it was my father’s primary fault. But I watched him go through two operations that were very risky and inappropriate and very expensive, re: profitable. Literally “consulted” with his second surgeon in the parking lot of Johns Hopkins next to his new Porsche, wondering how he kept his tan so dark in February in Baltimore. Then they literally dumped my father out into the street (well, ambulance to where ever, just not here) with a big hole in his leg that wasn’t there before he was admitted, when they felt that they he was no longer any use to them. Left a big impression on me. Big.

    btw, read my first post, especially the part about eliminating stupid stress from your life. You sound like your head is about to explode.

  54. BennyProfane says:

    Oh, and my Mom. Here’s my bloodsucking story with her.

    Doctor comes into the room, has a smile more sleazy than a used car salesman, and is trying to talk her (age 74) into a bypass (I am present). Tells her that, no need to worry, we did 220 of these things last year, you know, to try to reassure us that they know what they’re doing. Get that? He had a factory going, and needed another body to pay for overhead. We didn’t do it, and she lived for another five years with no major heart trouble. Big impression #2.

    Read Dr. Dean Ornish. He has another way. I did.

  55. rj chicago says:

    @ BR who quoted herewith: “My health insurance is here, but there are lots of places around the world that provide equal or better care — and with less jingoistic flag waving nonsense, to boot!”

    I hear Panama is good – but Barry instead of just smearing the wall – give some evidence of same please.
    Look forward to your reply.

  56. Moss says:

    No question the system is transaction based. It needs to be patient based. My father had 6 or 7 different doctors/specialists who never communicated to each other. In fact one doctor put him on Flomax w/o ever even visiting him. His PCP never even knew that until I told her. By the time he left the hospital he was on 14 different pills.

  57. farmera1 says:

    CIA data paints the same picture as Berry’s graphs. The US spends excessive amounts on health care.

    We spend double on health care as does Germany and Australia as a percent of GNP.

    We spend 60% more than Canada as a percent of GNP.

    And the list goes on. Also with worse outcomes from any industrialized country in areas like longevity,
    infant mortality and those kinds of things.

  58. gman says:

    How come the US pays 2x-3x as other first world nations for the same exact drug? Who finances lawmakers campaigns? The northern euro models may have flaws but for the bottom 90% of the populations in the vast majority of situations it is vastly better than what we have.

    The debate on this topic is over. The PR/marketing/agnotological apparatus of the various interests are really fighting a rear guard action…

    If you ask people what they think of “obamacare” even after the tens of millions spent smearing it…people still think more highly of it than the “health insurance industry”

  59. postpartisandepression says:

    wrong trade is mostly wrong

    1) the american medical asso keeps the pool of doctors low to keep wages high (so we have to import doctors trained often for free from other countries many of them poor) – do you know we are the only country where a medical degree is a graduate degree- totally unnecessary for most healthcare. Build more medical schools to serve the need (or would you rather see a chinese trained in what back water? ) an undergraduate 6 year degree is a great solution and keep the cost reasonable then maybe you will get people who want to do medicaine rather than those that really want to run hedge funds.
    2) lawyers -move to Texas – they limited liability for medical malpractice to $250,000 about 8 years ago- made almost no difference in malpractice insurance all it does is protect bad doctors and bad practices.
    3) please go to a hospital that has no rules next time you are sick and get one of those incurable infections please and do it in texas where they can’t sue the hospital. Are you serious ? no regulations – bankers taught us how well that worked for the financial system.
    4) yes insurance companies ARE one of the problems – why insert another layer of middle man between you and the care you need it just costs extra money. We need it only because we don’t have medicare for all. This isn’t like car insurance. If you can afford the premium you will try and get something that will pay if you get cancer or some awful disease or god forbid your child is sick. You will pay for any and every thing medicine can do- you don’t shop around for the best deal. And yes insurance companies make money when they can take in tons of premium and limit out put even if that means denying claims when you actually get sick and need it. What a great scam. They already get a great deal because they don’t insure the sickest people – the elderly – medicare does that.
    5)the forbes charts show that the average premiums for a family of 4 is over $15,000 per year. The median income in the US is less than $50,000- do the math how many of the >150,000,000 that earn that kind of money can afford those especially when those jobs generally don’t even provide an employer based plan where you could get a small break by pooling with others. Walmart our biggest US company has more employees that qualify for and are on medicaid than anything else and we revere them as being something we should emulate. So MOST americans barely have access to healthcare and aren’t over utilizing it. End of life – yes absolutely it should be addressed. Old people are going to die – of something and the driver for all the care is we put them in the hospital and physicians and hospitals get a lot of money for these heroic steps so yes lets change the incentives.
    6) TOTALLY AGREE and who did the worst thing to us – Bush and republicans and they stupid part D that PREVENTED medicare from negotiating prices. And yes I will add that pharma spend more on advertising drugs and on R&D. So take away advertising (ie return to the past) and a lot of the problem goes away (with the added bonus that they free up a big chunk of their budget for other things – investment in research would be novel)

    So the US pays 2 x more for healthcare than any other 1st world country primarily because we don’t have medicare for all- young and old paying a reasonable premium. There are multiple models to choose from all of whom are running real time experiments all over europe (France, Germany , Swedem etc) – just pick one you like and poof our problem is solved and the long term deficits faced by the country are eliminated all in one fell stroke. Too bad we don’t have leaders on either side that are willing to tackle this

  60. James Cameron says:

    There are multiple models to choose from all of whom are running real time experiments all over europe (France, Germany , Swedem etc) – just pick one you like and poof our problem is solved and the long term deficits faced by the country are eliminated all in one fell stroke.


    France’s system “is simply unaffordable, unsustainable, and the manner in which it’s financed is a huge burden on the economy,” says Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London. “The French are not being realistic.”

    France’s Health-Care System Is Going Broke

  61. ES says:

    No other country allows advertizing medical drugs on the TV, let’ start there. How sick is that?
    My 10 y.o. daughter was watching National Georgraphic at 4 pm anothre day and there was a Viagra commerical running .
    I’ve seen these scouter comemricals too – just basically call us and we’ll get you a scouter FREE OF CHARGE.
    We advertise the drugs on TV on one hand yet don’t allow people to buy even simplest antibiotics over the counter because apprently they are not educated enough. Why is that, to force them to go to a doctor 3 times to get a prescription?

  62. gman says:

    ” French Health Care system going broke” …and it costs half as much as ours…

    If we could just get our healthcare spending to French levels..our long term fiscal problem would be solved.

  63. beaufou says:

    If people in Congress, most notably Republicans, were actually serious about reducing federal spending they would be genuinely concerned about the cost of healthcare. Up until 2008; we all know what happened then, no not Obama, the melt down; federal spending was down and the only long term rise was Medicare due to an aging population and the rising cost of healthcare. There is a world beyond the agitprop 24 hour news and it’s called profits, pharmaceutical companies are always top earners but not because they are progressing in the health field, they just need to manage the sickness and suck as much money out of the Government as they possibly can, same goes for Government guaranteed student loans and defense contracts. We don’t hear elected officials complain too much about how much money is made in the private sector through Government loans and give-aways, that would make the GOP look like a herd of hypocrites which they are. Health is a business and has nothing to do with caring, so can we move forward and make those assholes earn their profits by having a Government alternative to the money hungry crowd?

    @James Cameron
    If one is to use an example for healthcare, England is not the place where you want to go, see above.

  64. socaljoe says:

    Gee, I wonder why the cost of everything subsidized by the federal government is running out of control.

    Could it be that we have a third party payer who has no incentive to cut back due to high prices?

    I wonder what costs looked like when health care was a two-party transaction between doctor and patient.

  65. formerlawyer says:

    @Lukey Says:

    Did you even read the referenced article? Again, from the article:

    “The truth is medical malpractice costs — both direct costs of insurance premiums and indirect costs of defensive medicine — are not among the primary drivers of health care costs. Percent direct costs in 2009 to providers of medical malpractice liability insurance, costs including insurance premiums, settlements, awards and administrative costs, totaled $35 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If those costs were lowered by 10 percent, it would reduce national health expenditures by 0.2 percent. Even if reforms resulted in less use of health care services driven by fear of lawsuits, savings to the system would be about 0.5 percent, or $11 billion in 2009.”

  66. mad97123 says:

    @eliz Says – “The “health care” system in the U.S. — who is healthier and who is cared for? Can you say, “insurance company executives and lobbyists”?”

    The answer is actually doctors, hospitals, big pharma with insurance companies coing in last. Across the entire Blue Cross Blue Shield association 90% of all premium collect is paid out in benefits to the care provider system.

    That was the failure of Obama Care, it did not even attempt to address where the real problem lies.

  67. Lukey says:


    I usually try not to just accept one article’s (or person’s) opinion as fact. The fact is nobody knows how much we spend on defensive medicine. Some estimates run as high as 20%. I think anyone who suggests it is as low as 0.3% has an agenda. I’m guessing it is more like 5% but I might be low.

    I’m a former hospital administrator (for 17 years), so, unless your area of law was health care, then which one of us do you think has a better handle on this issue?

  68. formerlawyer says:

    @Lukey Says:

    Okay. That works for me – sorry if I appeared snarky. Do you have any references for the 20% or 5% estimate?

  69. farmera1 says:

    We have by far the most expensive and by far the worst health care system in the developed world.

    CIA data supports the grossly expensive system as a percent of GNP.

    This current study from the study by the Clinical Advisor says we are at or near the lowest in results.

    Great example of American exceptionalism. A bloated costly system with terrible results.

  70. jus7tme says:

    The US medical professions (doctors, nurses, insureres) are a bunch of scammers that prey on the elderly.
    While I’m not elderly, I’ll give you two examples from 2012. The cost numbers are supposed to be at the negotiated rate, although I find that hard to believe.

    A 5 minute procedure, part of an otherwise paid for $350 office visit, billed at $950 !!

    A medication prescribed that cost $192/month. Upon complaint that it would cost me $172 after insurance, the doctor prescribed a $9 generic alternative.

  71. JoCotter says:

    Who really benefits on the US system of healthcare, is it the patients or the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies et al? In the UK there is a dual health care system, both a fully state-funded health care system funded from public taxation which all residents are entitled to receive and also a private health care system funded through private contributions/medicare insurance. One of the few countries in Europe that has such a dual system.

    The standards in the NHS are considered world class but it is true that the system is not perfect with longer than average waiting lists for operations and the system is certainly open to abuse, especially with others in the EU coming to reside within the UK simply to benefit from a free healthcare service as they cannot afford treatment in their own country.

    Rates of pay for doctors is good amonsgt the NHS but not anywhere near as good as the private sector but most private hospitals are unable to supply enough work for doctors to work full time, which means that most doctors work in the NHS and also in private hospitals dividing their time between the two. This does mean that you could see the same doctor for free (via NHS) whilst if you went private you’d see the same doctor but be paying £90 just for a consultation.

  72. [...] of these costs are coming from people over the age of 70 – take a look at this chart – click here. But believe it or not, the growth rates in medicine sales are actually slowing, relative to their [...]