Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On matters of health

For some while my left hand has had an itch to grab a (virtual) pen and write a long diatribe on the wrongs of the American health system. I actually got to collection of statistics from sources such as Congressional Budget Organisation, planning the direction that I would take.

But I am not going to do this for the simple reason that it is pointless. No one "system" is any better than another. And if America wants to continue its massive strides toward social extinction why the F*** should I care?

The epiphany came from a single page comparative I read in a National Geographic (of all places) last weekend. It comprised a short three paras, with a planomic showing health expenditure (total, not government funded alone) per head of population on one side with a line linking to average age expectancy at birth on the other.

I was looking at this and quickily found NZ (as I do) but for the life of me nowhere could I see the US! NZ was about 2/3s of the way down the page. Canada was above that, Britain further up again at about half way. No US. Then I found a red line that ended at about age 70, nearly opposite NZ on the spending side. It ran from there back up to the top printing margin on the left; US - $7,415 per head of population; printed in red which is why I did not see it immediately being very slightly red/green colour-blind.

What was not at all clear was whether this $7,415 php was the cost of providing medical services alone, or the "tax plus premiums" cost I had been seeking. From the data I have already dug out, I suspect it is the former. The true cost (tax and premiums paid to insurers) could well be higher again.

What I have learned through the exercise is that the American health system is all inclusive; it would cover dental (partially subsidised by the taxpayer in NZ), glasses (not subsidised), accident (covered separately from separate "tax") as well as basic health services (I pay the first $30 of every visit to the doctor).

So I can turn my back on the American health topic for good. America you are welcome to your unique (it is too, the only rich nation that does not provide universal health coverage) system.

TF, when you reach 65, will you be going on to Medicaid? Or will you continue working to pay your health insurance?

1 comment:

T. F. Stern said...

Probligo, The largest issue you fail to see is HOW things are done, not how much they cost. There are trigger words which defy the American spirit; one of them is Mandate. We associate that word with being subjects to government rather than being citizens who have government report to them. This one important issue may be the most important. The rest is just numbers on a page, something I leave to my wife or my accountant. Sorry no need for a discussion on accounting.