U.S. health care system has become a liability for global economy

It really says something when the health care system of our country isn't just a danger to American workers, but to the entire global economy.

Americans spend $2.4 trillion a year on health care. The Business Roundtable report says Americans in 2006 spent $1,928 per capita on health care, at least two-and-a-half times more per person than any other advanced country.

In a different twist, the report took those costs and factored benefits into the equation.

It compares statistics on life expectancy, death rates and even cholesterol readings and blood pressures. The health measures are factored together with costs into a 100-point "value" scale. That hasn't been done before, the authors said.

The results are not encouraging.

The United States is 23 points behind five leading economic competitors: Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The five nations cover all their citizens, and though their systems differ, in each country the government plays a much larger role than in the U.S.

The cost-benefit disparity is even wider — 46 points — when the U.S. is compared with emerging competitors: China, Brazil and India.
Higher U.S. spending funnels away resources that could be invested elsewhere in the economy, but fails to deliver a healthier work force, the report said.

"Spending more would not be a problem if our health scores were proportionately higher," Dr. Arnold Milstein, one of the authors of the study, said in an interview. "But what this study shows is that the U.S. is not getting higher levels of health and quality of care."

Other countries spend less on health care and their workers are relatively healthier, the report said.

Medical costs have long been a problem for U.S. auto companies. General Motors spends more per car on health care than it does on steel. But as more American companies face global competition, the "value gap" is being felt by more CEOs — and their hard pressed workers.

The problem with the report is that it turns around and endorses a private health care system, with the government picking up the tab for the poor. In other words, roughly the same system that we have today, except with workers instead of companies paying the costs.

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glad to see this finally framed this way

I've heard this directly from CEOs. In discussion of costs they say it's easier to manufacture in Ireland and that's just due to health care costs. It's 20% more in the United States for them.

Then, I've posted here many times the OECD data which shows the United States pays 8 times more in health care costs than any other industrialized nation.

Sounds like we need yet another overview blog post on how this is not just a right, a citizen right to quality health care...but also is killing the United States as a location for worker intensive production.

The place I really disagree here is the idea of letting the drug companies, the insurance companies have a seat at the table, as well as medical equipment, records processing...

all of these health sector industries are for profit and by their nature are going to try to wring as much profit out of sick people as they can. I'm for H.R. 676. Single payer, universal health care.

If the US was a patient it would be very sick

The health value chain in the US is far too complex (and costly). Entities do things that add no value (except cost) to the final service - improving health care and delivery.

The US should implement a national public health system and eliminate all the non value costs from the health value chain. This would reduce health liabilities on business, reduce the cost of health care and provide a broader health safety net. I grew up in the UK, lived in NZ and now I live in Australia - public health provision is a good thing exactly for the reasons highlighted in the report. It produces a healthy workforce and a more efficient capitalist system as resources are used where they add value.

Undertaking this change would be no different to re-engineering a business to be more efficient - that is to make each health dollar go further.

Health Care Financing

The Healthcare system is bloated with debt that was leveraged from its capacity. The fact is, an empty hospital bed (and depending where and when the number can be significant) should not have a cost. Take the need to generate profit out of the private provider system--physicians would be happier simply drawing a decent salary and not having to operate their private businesses. Same
with hospitals. There's a huge need to examine what insurance really is: is it afterall a prepayment of future medical expenses? A healthy 25 year old paying premiums yet never uses the system...what does that premium actually represent?