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Health Care Spending-International

National Geographic image



The United States spends more on medical care per person than any country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year. Why the high cost? The U.S. has a fee-for-service system—paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn’t reliably improve a patient’s health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, “More care does not necessarily mean better care.”  —Michelle Andrews

Clink on the link above to see the full image – the image below is readable, but the right side was clipped for some reason.

For those of you who don’t have time to study this chart — I’ll mention some of the numbers and comparisons that stand out.

This chart/graph on the right side compares the average life expectancy at birth of individuals in each countries. On the left side is the per person spending on health care. Note that the US spends the most and Mexico spends the least. The red lines are the countries without Universal Health Coverage, the blue lines show the countries with Universal Health Coverage. Both the US and Mexico are red line countries, they have no Universal Health care coverage.

On the right Britain ranks in the mid-point or average with a life expectancy of 79.2 years and with health care costs of $2,966 per year.

The thickness of the lines show doctor visits per year. The thin lines show 0 to 3 visits and the 2nd size line is from 4 to 7 doctor visits per year. The 3rd line represents 8 to 11 visits doctor visits per year. The 4th line represents 12+ visits per year.

Japan spends $2,581 per person per year and are one of two countries with 12+ doctor visits per person  per year with a life expectancy of 83 years.  Sweden $3,323 per person per year on health care and has less than 4 doctor visits per year, their life expectancy is 81 years. Mexico (a red line Nation) spends $823 per person with a life expectancy of a little more than 75 years and zero to 3 doctor visits per year.

The US spend $7290 per year per person, doctor visits are from zero to 3 per year. Life expectancy is 78 years (only 3 years better than the Life expectancy of Mexico which spends the least per person of countries compared). The US is the other red line Country without Universal Health Care Coverage.

In the US we know that some people rarely visit the doctor and that about 43 million have no health care coverage. We also know that there is an effort on the part of Congress and the President to tax the “high value” company (workplace or job related) supplied health insurance. The theory is that the high value insurance is supposed to fund the cost of insurance for the currently uninsured.

Something is terribly wrong with the American health care system — we have the most costly per person, yet 43 million do not have any health care coverage. There is a gap of $2,873 between the US and Switzerland, with Switzerland spending $4,417 per Individual on Health Care Coverage. That gap $2,873 is about what the UK pays per person in health care costs. Could it be that the $2,873 gap between Switzerland and the US is the amount that goes into “overhead” the middle men who “manage” the Health Insurance system? With multiple Health Insurance companies requiring medical professionals to hire more staff to deal with all the Insurance rules and regulations and fine print — there is a whole layer of . . .  mess . . .  between patients and doctors. Nothing in the Health care bill that we are being threatened with addresses the over bloated insurance mess. $2,873 is a heck of a lot of money.

“Dollar figures reflect all public and private spending on care, from doctor visits to hospital infrastructure. Data are from 2007 or the most recent year available.”

The Cost of Health Care

International Comparison of Health Care Cost per person


6 Responses

  1. If you can do it move to Canada or Western/Northern Europe. That’s the only advice I can give my fellow Americans who are unemployed or don’t have a decent full-time job with health benefits. Things are only going to get worse so if you see the writing on the wall, plan to leave before more Americans get the idea. It won’t be long.

    • You are very wise.

      We have made our plans to leave this year.

      I really had no idea how bad our health insurance was compared to the rest of the world, until I started doing the research.

      Also people who think they have insurance probably are going to be disappointed because it won’t be there when they need it.

      • My mom just met a woman in her 80s who still pays $500/month for health care and her pills. I thought Medicare covered everything for most of the elderly but I guess I was wrong.

  2. $500 is a lot of money for most US women in their 80s.

    From what I understand a lot of retired people need to buy supplemental insurance or pay out of pocket for what isn’t covered by Medicare. Also Medicare part D has a huge gap in coverage.

    I really need to do some research on how much retired people are really paying vs what medicare is paying. I know that some elders need to work to earn money to cover the gaps in medicare coverage.

  3. Apparently Medicare isn’t as comprehensive as we’ve been lead to believe.

    Check this link

    • Thanks. I’m bookmarking that site for future reference because my mom will be qualified for medicare in a few years and she’s already scared that Medicare won’t be enough to pay for medical care and prescription drugs. I just want to live in a country where I don’t need to worry about this kind of stuff when I’m old.

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