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Friday, September 01, 2006


Gabriel M.

Let's heart it from the British, then... The Welfare State We're In (blog) and book.

Also, the above statement that the US system is somehow "free-market" (be it drug pricing or insurance) is very fishy. That's no free market. In a free market there's no FDA, no mandatory limits on this and that, and so on.

Part of the puzzle is that if, at one time, you want more services, more tests, etc. then you can get it. In Europe (Denmark, Germany, etc.) even if you're willing to pay, there are month-long queues for tests (ex. magnetic resonance), during the weekends there are few doctors on call (cartelisation, anyone?) and so on. I've heard horrible stories from Romanians returning from work aboard about the bureaucratic healthcare system in Germany. An American would not understand, I think, that he has to register 1.5+ months ahead for a simple procedure.

On the other hand I agree that Americans might need to chill out (from an anecdotal perspective, since I've met only a handful of Americans).


Americans do not have an on demand health care system that dispenses meidical care like fast food. Americans have limited access to medical services, particularly if they are inner city poor or live in rural areas. Those with insurance are restricted in what will be covered and even when services will be available. They have relatively high co-pays, which is prohibitive. An appointment with a specialist can take months. Not to mention the byzantine nature of the system. You never know what you pay for and when until you get the bill. And, of course, health care functions like a monopoly. Not many people shop around for the best price on getting their broken leg fixed.

Personally I was stunned with the ease of care I found in a London emergency room. In the US, city emergency rooms are often filled with people who have inadequate primary care.

It would be interesting to see how Japanese high anxiety compares with that of Americans. Perhaps a combination of bad diet, little exercise and anxiety makes Americans less healthy. What is the source of this anxiety? More social insecurity? More alienation? Just a natural competitive spirit that drives Americans to win win win?

Arthur Eckart

There may be more inequality in the U.S. than in Western Europe, e.g. between incomes, education, health, etc. Consequently, the top 50% of Americans may be richer, more educated, healthier, etc. than the top 50% in Europe. Americans tend to value responsibility and freedom, which are part of its moral philosophy, because there are benefits and consequences to choices. Americans don't want to be coerced to take up the slack of those who make immoral choices, which promotes immorality. However, many Americans know it's their responsibility to help others, while the state also sets minimum standards.


medical care doesn't really produce health

But poor health produces a lot of medical care which may explain why Americans spend twice as much on it.

Arthur Eckart

Lord, America spends a lot on medical care, because it can afford it. America also spends a lot on education (and using your logic, America spends a lot on education, because Americans are not intelligent?).

jon livesey

I have to agree with "Lord". People here are missing the point. This study does not compare medical systems or healthcare systems. It compares health.

The remark in the article that caught my eye was the part about rationing. I was born in the UK in 1945. For the first seven years of my life I rarely ate candy, ate very little butter or sugar, and saw my first banana at the age of six. We had relatively little meat, but ample fish from local North Sea fisheries. It's been noted that during this time the UK death rate from cardiac disease and diabetes declined.

Today, even after having lived in the US for the past twenty five years, I observe that my diet is significantly different to that of most Americans. I use no sugar and only trace amounts of oil in cooking, find American baked goods uneatable, eat no meat but quite a lot of fish and large amounts of vegetables. I eat no fast food, including pizza. I don't drive, but bike everywhere, which is quite practical in California.

For these or other reasons, I am still the same weight I was when I left High School, 150# and so far I have never been seriously ill. At least in my opinion, lifestyle is a far more important factor here than healthcare. Americans should stop being so hypnotised by numbers, IMHO. Just because you can measure healthcare spending does not mean that it's the key factor. Sometimes the things you can't put a dollar amount on are more important.

Arthur Eckart

Jon, there's only one problem with your conclusion. It's been stated Americans who are poor aren't getting enough health care. U.S. spending on health care has been to create the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, rather than providing universal health care. So, it's not poor health that promotes health care spending. The U.S. has the capital and labor for cutting-edge research, development, and production of health care products, methods, cures, etc.

Arthur Eckart

Jon, I disagree American "baked goods" are uneatable. You can easily find large and similar varieties from other parts of the world at American supermarkets. Also, all Americans are not the same. I agree, you can't place a value on some things, e.g. how much is a cure for cancer worth or how can that be measured?

Arthur Eckart

Below is a Pew Research link on happiness. On the right side there are various happiness categories.



America spends a lot on education, because Americans are not intelligent?

You have to be dumb to need education? America spends a lot on education because it is desired. I do wonder whether it is poor health though or just more expensive healthcare. I am inclined to the latter.


: "It's been stated Americans who are poor aren't getting enough health care. U.S. spending on health care has been to create the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, rather than providing universal health care."

Quite right.

And this is precisely THE reason the WHO ranked America as 37th in overall heath care ... just above Cuba as I recall. Of course, the study is dated (http://www.who.int/whr/2000/en/whr00_en.pdf) but aside from a very critical review of American health care, it does discuss overall performance under a number of criteria.

The prevailing criteria was not medical sophistication, in terms of technology available, but the general accessibility to health care. America shows very poorly compared to say, France, which is number 1 in the WHO list as regards accessibility.

This could be due to the fact that coverage is private and therefore funded by corporations? Whereas national coverage in Europe is funded publically.

Another study (that I am unable to source) indicated that at any given moment between 15 and 20% of the American labor force was without insured health care coverage.

Sho 'nuff: Ya pays for what ya gets.

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I am a person 38 years of age and age I have called for greater attention to what is my health in all aspects and that by such've always been a healthy person so now I focus on maintaining a healthy metabolism, healthy eating, exercising and maintain healthy routines in my daily life.

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We must do something if the British are healthier than Americans ... that means there are many bad eating habits in this country thanks

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