June 24, 2005

Healthcare Spending in America

The Economist magazine had an interesting article last week on healthcare around the world.


The Economist stated:

In 2003, America spent $5,635 per person on health care, more than twice the average in rich economies, according to a new OECD report. Britain spent only $2,231 per person. Health spending accounted for 15% of America's GDP. Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland also spent over 10% of GDP on health. America is the only country where more than half of all health spending is within the private sector.

Given that in most countries there is much better insurance/coverage of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - we're going to have to get a lot more creative with our efforts to help the mentally ill.

Just throwing more money at the problem obviously isn't the only answer - advocacy groups will need to get much better at convincing society that providing better coverage for the mentally ill is a better investment than, for example, paying for viagra for old age pensioners. Given the budget battles that are looming due to the US fiscal deficit - the challenge is only beginning. As a side note, its interesting to note that average life spans in the USA are actually lower than in many countries that spend much less on healthcare. It seems that perhaps we're investing in the wrong things. (see graph below)


Source: Economist Magazine; Health Spending


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