Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Double Whammy

Don Luskin correctly characterizes this "awesome posting from EU Rota" noting that the OECD Factbook indicates that US governments spend more per capita on health care than almost any European country, with the lowest tax wedge. As Rota and the OECD factbook show, the comparison is even more telling if one considers private healthcare expenditures in addition to government expenditures.

But, of course, that's the spending side. One of the canards pushed on the public in the early Clintonian era (ca 1992-1994) was the assertion that American money bought less healthcare dollar-for-dollar than European money. That assertion foundered on the rocks of studies such as the one reported in an article titled "Getting more for their dollar: a comparison of the NHS with California's Kaiser Permanente" by Richard G A Feachem, Neelam K Sekhri, Karen L White, that appeared in the journal British Medical Journal a few years back, and found:
The widely held beliefs that the [British National Helth Service] NHS is efficient and that poor performance in certain areas is largely explained by underinvestment are not supported by this analysis. Kaiser achieved better performance at roughly the same cost as the NHS because of integration throughout the system, efficient management of hospital use, the benefits of competition, and greater investment in information technology.
Obviously, not all US medical care is provided by Kaiser and not all European healthcare is provided by the NHS. But Kaiser is a pretty representative American HMO, the NHS is a pretty representative European national healthcare system - and Kaiser and the NHS are the two systems that the Clintonian propogandists chose to compare when it suited their purposes. The study therefore strongly suggests that the American medical system may well be more efficient than its European competitors on a dollar-per-dollar basis. One can now add to that likelihood that the US is also expending more of those dollars in the first place - as EU Rota notes from the Factbook figures.

More dollars. Probably more medical care per dollar. Sweet.

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