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Sometimes words aren’t enough to explain how inefficient and ineffective our health care system is these days. Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com put together an interesting graph that plots health care spending in industrialized countries in relation to life expectancy.

The graph is below but is a little difficult to read. Click here for a larger version that Silver posted. You may have to look twice to find the U.S. on the far right, which has a below average life expectancy and spends far more than any other country on the chart. 

healthscatter2

14 Comments

  1. Louie

    January 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Chris,

    life expectancy is lower here in the USA because of a range of socio-economic reasons (chronic unemployment, inequality) that have nothing to do with access of a population to medical services.

  2. IBXer

    January 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Louie, they don’t care.

    They don’t care that when you control for things like automobile deaths (things that have nothing to do with whether or not you have health insurance), the life expectancy difference actually reverses.

    That is because the left knows that in order to have total power over the lives of their neighbors they must first take over healthcare. Once that is done, then they can start controlling all their other aspects of our lives.

    We have more freedom in the US than in any other nation. As a result, people are allowed to make bad choices. The left wants to take away those choices and the easiest way to do that is through management of the healthcare system.

  3. pino

    January 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    a below average life expectancy

    As mentioned above, when corrected to exclude violent deaths, the US rates at or near the top life expectancy in the world.

    spends far more [..on healthcare..] than any other country on the chart.

    This statement would be equally true for spending on plasma TVs, shoes, oranges, blue jeans, fish aquariums and athletic tickets.

    The fact is that American’s now spend less of their annual salary on essentials [food and shelter] than we ever have in the past. We have more discretionary money than we ever have. In short, we have never had it so good.

    Presented with this “dilemma”, is it any wonder that Americans choose to spend money on something that improves their health? For example, how much money do we spend on laser eye surgery or braces to straighten teeth? Do you suppse that is a “feature” of our station as citizens of the richest country in the world or a “bug”? By counting such spending in the same bucket like your study above, it paints it as a bug.

    I disagree with that.

  4. Jeff

    January 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, and don’t forget the Infant Mortality Rate. Our’s sucks, but then again we try to save every one we can and actually count the ones we loose.

  5. pino

    January 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    then again we try to save every one we can

    And we have more than others. For example; women who are not able to conceive in other countries are able to here in America. We have medical technology that allows women to have children who otherwise couldn’t. The trouble? Such mothers often times end up carrying more than 1 child, sometimes EIGHT! Those babies are very very high risk.

    actually count the ones we loose.

    Again, correct.

    In many countries, a birth is not considered a birth unless:

    - The baby lives for more than 24 hours.
    - The baby meets minimum weight requirements
    - The baby meets minimum length requirements
    - The baby meets BOTH minimum weight and length
    - The baby is past the required number of weeks in the womb
    - The hospital even bothers to record it

    All facts ignored.

  6. Adam Linker

    January 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    It’s actually pretty complicated to compare life expectancy and outcomes across countries. But there is no doubt that we are spending much more than other nations for health care with no better results.

    I don’t think we pay significantly more per fish aquarium than other countries.

  7. pino

    January 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    there is no doubt that we are spending much more than other nations for health care

    You’re right; we spend much more than other nations on health care.

    no better results.

    How are you measuring that?

    I don’t think we pay significantly more per fish aquarium than other countries.

    We don’t spend more per, just more in total.

    The claim is that our total spend on health care is more than anyone else. My point is that our total spend on almost EVERYTHING is more than anyone else.

    For example, I bet we spend more on clothing than any other country. I see that as a good thing. I have the ability to choose what to buy and am able to wear different types of clothing for different occasions. Having the option to purchase multiple shirts, pants and sweaters is a good thing.

    Why is having the option to buy glasses, braces, eye correction surgery, cosmetic surgery and fertility treatments seen as a bad thing?

  8. Adam Linker

    January 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    My claim is that the US spends more per person on health care than almost any other country. I doubt we spend more per person on clothing than France. Maybe, but I doubt it.

    http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php

  9. gregflynn

    January 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    If US infant mortality counts were skewing US life expectancy for 0-1 year olds then one would expect life expectancy for 1-2 year olds to be significantly higher but, that is not the case.

  10. IBXer

    January 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Greg, you are confusing two different issues: life expectancy and infant mortality.

    Infant mortality is skewed in the US because we have better prenatal care in the US than in other countries so we end up having more children born with deadly health conditions, they then die and we have higher infant mortality rates. These childred typically die in the womb in other countries and therefore are not counted.

    This is a case where having better healthcare actually skews statistics in such a way as to make it look like we have more children dying when in fact we are simply giving more children a chance to live.

    On the other hand, the thing skewing life expectancy is, in general, the fact that Americans have more freedom and wealth than anyone else in the world. People who live in Europe and can’t afford $10 gallon gas are much less likely to own a car and die in an auto accident, for example.

  11. gregflynn

    January 6, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I certainly understand the difference. I was responding to Pino’s implication that infant deaths and violent deaths should be factored into US life expectancy comparisons.

  12. gregflynn

    January 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    If we have better prenatal care we should have fewer “children born with deadly health conditions” not more, especially in high-risk pregnancies.

  13. pino

    January 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Pino’s implication that infant deaths and violent deaths should be factored into US life expectancy comparisons.

    To clarify. I only feel that to measure medical using life expectancy, we should normalize data to account for medical care related deaths; one of which is violent death. I wouldn’t think we would exclude infant mortality unless there is something unique to one system over another.

  14. IBXer

    January 7, 2010 at 11:11 am

    “If we have better prenatal care we should have fewer “children born with deadly health conditions” not more, especially in high-risk pregnancies”

    Seriously? Are you being serious? It’s hard to tell with you people sometimes.

    I can only assume you mean either A) these children should have been detected and aborted or, B) if we had better prenatal care, there would be no more birth defects – which is retarded.

    So from this statement I must conclude you are either advocating euginics and/or you are retarded…