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America's Health Disadvantage
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Category: Digital Media, Economy, Taxes and Policy

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.

17 Responses to “America's Inefficient Health Care System”

  1. Expat says:

    The American healthcare system is not inefficient. You are simply looking at it the wrong way. It is more efficient than any other system at extracting maximum wealth and shareholder value. Healthcare in America is not about healing, or worse, preventing illness. It is about making money.

    The American healthcare system is highly efficient and good at what it is designed for.

    • TARBIOTECH says:

      Prevention is largely the responsibility of the patient.
      We are the 3rd largest country by population (330,000,000).
      The other 17 countries combined is barely twice that of the U.S.
      If a developed country has a population of 9 million, of course it will be more efficient.
      No one ever points out the population demographics.
      Would you go to the 50th best hospital in the U.S. or the 50th best hospital in China or India, (the 2 countries with a larger population)?

      • DeDude says:

        “of course it will be more efficient”

        Please explain the logic since it seems to be contrary to all economic theory that I have heard of (and all my real life observations). Isn’t the economy of scale supposed to make things cheaper and more efficient the more people you make it for?

      • TARBIOTECH says:

        1. you have to look at the behavior of our citizens…
        2. our obesity rates trounce any other country
        3. obesity leads to comorbid conditions–Diabetes, CHF, COPD, renal failure, etc…
        4. our poor citizens have far less access to preventative care and the ratio of MD to patients
        is increasing..easier to go to the ED rather than make an appointment with MD (this is why hosp bills are so expensive).
        5. Smaller countries have a better ratio of MD’s to patients..which should lead to more visits, better patient education and thus healthier habits.
        6. If economy of scale is supposed to make things cheaper and more EFFICIENT the more people you make it for, where is India and China in this comparison?

  2. Frilton Miedman says:

    Between medicare/medicaid & subsidies, taxes pay for near 50% of the healthcare sector’s revenues.

    If we want to regulate those prices & markups, or provide a cheaper low grade government option, it’s “socialism” – an affront to the “free market”.

    Meanwhile, the food industry is hard at work on the other side with deregulation, pizza is now a “vegetable” (no joke, Conagra lobbied for it and won)….soon, high fructose corn syrup & trans fat will “vitamins” – this will solve the social security problem, we’ll all be dead by 60.

    For those who live past 60, while the banking sector is hard at work stealing your net worth, you won’t have to worry about those things because 99% of us will be living in our cars, eating rice & beans anyway.

    Every problem we now have as a country boils down to money in politics – mindful that the Constitution prohibits bribery, meanwhile, Justice Scalia cites “money is speech” and we cannot limit “speech”.

  3. eric1963 says:

    The data do not speak to efficiency of healthcare delivery. None of the numbers are acuity adjusted. Standing out is our obesity, drug use etc. Obesity kills.


    BR: UK, Canada, and other nations are nearly as obese, but ont have nearly the same cost structure

  4. AnnaLee says:

    So BR, are you trying to say – In view of the health habits of Americans, it is not surprising that their health care is a higher percent of GDP than their peers! – ? This situation is older than you think:

    JFK was trying to do something. In the town I grew up in, the problem was that the effort was turned into a reward for children already lean, trim, and athletically inclined and punishment for children overweight, slow and stiff. This even went to grades in PE where elementary children were often given F (fail) when they performed poorly verses government set goals. So the fat got fatter and the lean got leaner. Improvement in health was not a goal – a preset number of sit-ups was the goal. Fat kid improved from 2 to 10 sit-ups and lost 5 pounds – didn’t matter. He couldn’t do the preset number and no one ever weighed him anyway. Somehow we end up “helping” those who don’t need it. I think it is our culture. We like and reward existing perfection even in programs purportedly designed for improving the not so perfect. Kids did walk to school back then. They were still fat (some of them and probably less than now). Walking is too dangerous now, I hear.

    America has been America for a long, long, time.

  5. wrongtrade says:

    Our health care system is capitalistic and even mercenary, no doubt, but one has to acknowledge that the guns, tobacco, alcohol, obesity, stupidity, poverty, high expectations (for heroic end-of-life care and saving marginally viable infants), laziness and lack of self accountability drive our health care costs higher even if all else was equal. All else is not equal, e.g. our deep South is NOT Denmark, the drive-through at Burger King is NOT as healthy as calorie restriction and brown rice, and cheesecake for dessert is NOT as healthy as a small portion of fruit or cheese. TBP posts plenty on how awful our health care system is, but at least this post acknowledges that it is a two-way street. If we got some fat hypertensives off disability our GDP would go up and our health care costs would go down.

  6. Cato says:

    Surely most of the problems emphasised in the main “fat man” graphic are cultural and societal – is a more efficient healthcare system going to lead to fewer violent injuries and car deaths; safer sex by adolescents; going to get people to exercise more and eat more sensibly; etc?

  7. Donald says:

    If you stay healthy, nobody makes any money. No wonder there’s no incentive (in America) to stay healthy. New cancer centers (big business) are popping up everywhere. Someone has to take care of all the people who chose the 99 cent value meal, the real cost of corn subsidies. Big business and government wants Americans to be fat, sick and poor. They’re easier to control in that state than healthy, educated and earning a good income. Researchers expect half of America to be diabetic in just 5 years. Who wins?

  8. a reader says:

    The health care system is not inefficient as much as it is insane. You all should read the Time Magazine article by Steven Brill that documents the insanity of health care costs. Here’s an excerpt:

    There is no rhyme or reason to costs. There is no fairness. It is expensive. It is opaque. It is insane.

    Some would blame the habits of Americas which is to say it is their own damn fault. While that may be convenient, it still does not come close to explaining the reality of our out of control health care system.

    • Donald says:

      If you apply simple corporate structure (stockholders and profits above customers or in this case patients), then it explains all costs and the insanity. Americans are only going to get: bigger, sicker, less mobile, less healthy, and more expensive. It looks like the next “bubble” to me!

  9. Chuck says:

    The heart disease caught my attention – I looked up two different statistics and found the following:
    Death from Coronary Heart Disease (from – U.S. ranked #135
    Heart disease deaths (from – U.S. ranked 13th

    Some of the other categories looked suspicious as well but I didn’t have time to check them all out.

    An agenda at work here?

  10. ami_in_deutschland says:

    One statistic which is often overlooked (especially by apologists for the US health system) is the comparatively low smoking rate in the United States. Most of the peer countries listed have far higher percentages of the population which regularly smoke (only Sweden has less), and yet they all still have higher life expancies.

  11. riley says:

    BR – How does any of the information presented demonstrate that America has an inefficient health care system? Every item listed on the infographic is a societal problem that the health care system is expected to treat and health care costs include the treatment of theses conditions. There are many problems with our health care system, but these are not it.

    The question we should be asking is why. Not what is the solution, but why do, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, adolescent pregnancies etc exist in such large quantities in America and not elsewhere.

    If you don’t identify the problem you can’t fix it.

  12. 873450 says:

    U.S. healthcare spending = 17.6% GDP = $8,333 per capita …
    … and 45-50 million American citizens (15%-17% population) had no healthcare.

  13. lrh says:

    This link sheds some light on why the United States spends so much more on health care than other industrialized nations. It’s a complex subject so the report runs 122 pages.