It’s No Longer Economy Stupid, Health Care Is Problem Says Gallup

Bruce Bartlett is an economic historian who has helped many Republican notables over the years; McCain, Kemp, and Reagan to name a few. Bartlett’s recent column in the Fiscal Times should be a wakeup call. In it Bartlett points out the shameful facts and figures on the current state of U.S. health care. We pay far more and in important ways get less for our dollar than anyone.

Notable quotes from Bartlett’s article in the Fiscal Times include the following:

  • ?There are many reasons why Americans pay far more for health care than those in every other country. One is that we pay our doctors more than any other country does. The average primary care physician makes $186,582 in the U.S. versus $159,532 in the U.K., $131,809 in Germany, $125,104 in Canada, $95,585 in France and $92,844 in Australia….The gap is even larger among specialists…?
  • …American doctors spend far more time on paperwork than doctors in other countries do. This adds up to a health administrative cost of $606 per person in the U.S. France, the nation with the second heaviest health administration cost, spends just $277 per capita. In Norway the cost is just $35.?
  • A MRI scan costs $1,121 in the U.S. compared with less than $400 in France, the U.K. and Netherlands.?
  • The Commonwealth Fund survey reports a death rate of 96 per 100,000 for problems amenable to medical treatment in the U.S. These include ailments such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and bacterial infections for those under age 75. The U.K. had the second highest death rate from such causes at 83, with many countries under 70. In France, the death rate is just 55.

Bartlett’s citing of the Commonwealth Fund survey mirrors what Keith Speights reports in the Motley Fool about the 34 countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Speights cites percentage of GDP spending in the subject countries as an alarm indicator:

  • There are far fewer physicians per 1,000 people in the U.S. than most other countries. The U.S. ties for seventh-lowest among OECD member nations, with 2.4 physicians per 1,000 persons. However, even with fewer physicians, more CT and MRI exams are performed in the U.S. than nearly any other country. This likely results from multiple factors, including fear of lawsuits and financial incentives within the U.S. health care system.
  • Americans are No. 1 — unfortunately, in an area where we’d prefer to rank lower. The U.S. spends?a staggering 17.9% of its GDP on health care. That’s $8,680 per person — 61% higher than the next-highest nation.?However, Americans’ life expectancy of 78.7 years places 27th among OECD members and is over a year less than the OECD average.?

All this is not lost on the American people. Gallup in both October 2013 and November 2013 sought respondents to the question, ?What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?? Dissatisfaction with government responses dropped from 33 percent to 26 percent, and concern about the economy in general dropped 3 points to 16 percent. Concern about poor health care and the high cost of health care in this country rose from 12 percent to 16 percent, in one month, making it the second most important issue after dissatisfaction with government. The figures on dissatisfaction with government dropped a whopping 7 percentage points at the same time as concerns about healthcare costs and quality rose, indicating it’s not just the circus in Washington or the evil Obamacare that is getting increasing attention — it is the fact that our mostly privately delivered health care is our largest tax by far and cuts across all boundaries.

Interesting to note, of the two cited pundits above, Keith Speights in the Motley Fool suggests profit potentials by investing in companies that seek to manage the massive flow of dollars out of our wallets. Bruce Bartlett, a Republican insider for much of the last 30 years, more and more writes about the joke that the Republican Party has become. His closing in the article above is telling and is written in his plain truth style:

The Affordable Care Act was designed to deal with these very real health problems in the American system. While obviously it is not a cure-all, it is at least an attempt to lower costs and improve health access for millions of Americans. The Republican alternative is to repeal the ACA and do nothing to reduce health costs or improve health care availability to those without insurance.

Edited by SS