US Is One Of Only Three Developed Nations Without Universal Healthcare For All, OECD Report Shows

Salon has a good article about the ugliness of the US healthcare situation and how it could possibly be this way.

It's entitled "The questions our healthcare debate ignores".

"Last month, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued the latest in a long series of reports on our wasteful and cruel practices that ought to awaken a sense of national embarrassment."

DEPRESSING fact that is mentioned NUMBER ONE: "Among the OECD's 30 members -- which include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- there are only three lacking universal health coverage. The other two happen to be Mexico and Turkey, which have the excuse of being poorer than the rest (and until the onset of the world economic crisis, Mexico was on the way to providing healthcare to all of its citizens). The third, of course, is us."

(Here is the actual report from the OECD web site)

"The story gets worse as the details emerge. Although the public share of health expenditure in the United States is much lower than any other OECD country except Mexico, the public expenditure on healthcare is much higher per capita than in most OECD countries. So we pay a lot more in taxes devoted to medical care -- not including insurance premiums, co-payments, fees, and other health costs -- than taxpayers in those 27 countries that have universal coverage. Our public expenditure provides coverage only for the elderly and some of the poor (through Medicaid and the SCHIP program for children) while other countries provide universal coverage while spending less."

"How much less? Nations with comparable standards of living like France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and Japan spend roughly between half and two-thirds per capita what we spend annually. They cover everyone and their results are measurably better. And the supposed downsides of universal coverage, such as lack of access to sophisticated medical technologies, are belied in many of these countries. For instance Japan has lower per capita health expenditures than the United States (and universal coverage,) but its citizens have greater access to MRI machines, CT scanners and kidney dialysis equipment than Americans do."

"As the study suggests, our grossly inflated and poorly managed health budget results from a variety of pathologies, including a greater prevalence of obesity and other chronic illness, a powerful pharmaceutical lobby that keeps prices high, and the profit-making imperative of the private insurance companies that still dominate American health policy, more than four decades after we established universal coverage for the elderly and the poor. Looking forward, the OECD advocates many of the same incremental reforms contemplated by the Obama administration."

(Obama's stated goal is to improve healthcare efficiency and improve affordability- by 2019)

"But it is difficult to imagine how the United States can afford to provide quality healthcare for all of its citizens in an era of diminished resources -- unless we look to the example of other democratic states around the world. Long ago, they realized that if healthcare is a public good and a human right, the domination of private interests must be curtailed."

(Obama plans to spend around 63 billion dollars a year to reach his goal. But we could afford an 800 BILLION dollar handout to banks in order to cover their gambling debts and keep housing prices out of the reach of many Americans. Meanwhile, 14,000 Americans are losing job-provided health benefits - many can't afford to pay elsewhere - a day!)

What is wrong with this picture?

Tags: adverse selection, bankruptcy, cost shifting, insurance cartel, universal healthcare (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

OECD

Well Brazil, which isn't an OECD member, has a universal health care system plus a private supplemental system, somewhat akin to the German and Taiwanese systems. That's Brazil. And in Brazil, their system covers prescriptions. Brazil.

Universal Health Care in Brazil

Of the three OECD members you mentioned, they have one more commonality beyond lack of a universal health care system, they are also the most unequal OECD members in terms of income distribution. Disturbing, ain't it?

by Charles Lemos 2009-03-09 04:12PM | 0 recs
Its extremely disturbing..

...

Its not a zero sum game. We can gain if other countries gain too.

by architek 2009-03-09 06:54PM | 0 recs
points for you to consider

A.) You are largely preaching to the choir

B.) All your stupid polls do is piss people off

C.) Unless you are really just an attention whore there are far more effective ways to advocate for Universal Healthcare since it is your biggest priority

D.) You are pretty much getting on everyone's nerves so just stop.

by JDF 2009-03-09 06:29PM | 0 recs
Whoa...

No need to get angry..

by architek 2009-03-09 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Whoa...

I am not angry. I just think you are an attention whore who wastes there time writing the same thing everyday because they can't think of a better way to spend their time.

I think if you cared about this as much as you suggest you do you would be working with an organization that advocates for single payer systems. I think you would be writing your legislators. I think you would be writing the administration.

What I can't figure out is why you waste so much time annoying people who, for the most part, agree with you on the issue.

by JDF 2009-03-09 07:39PM | 0 recs
We someone had to say it

Also I have family in Canada and I lived there for a few years from 1996-1999, the Canadian system is not as popular up there and you think. They hate our (lack of a) system more, but their system is NOT widely popular. My cousins complain about it all the time. I remind them "at least you have healthcare"

by DTOzone 2009-03-09 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: We someone had to say it

I have a brother who lives in Canada--he complains constantly about their health care system. Contrary to what Michael Moore would have us believe, it's not utopia.

Government-run health care ultimately leads to shortages, and rationing. Even the abortion clinics get hit; according to Dick Morris, most in the UK report a nine-month waiting period.

by BJJ Fighter 2009-03-09 08:44PM | 0 recs
I've heard of that waiting period

a similar issue in Canada, but in Ontario it's been unearthed as an elaborate hoax by abortion doctors hoping to prolong the wait long enough to prevent the abortion from taking place in the first place.

"You have to wait...oops waited too long, no you must have the baby"

I also have family in Greece where shortages happen a lot and due to some loophole, there are only a few doctors in the rural areas and some people have to travel hours to reach a doctor. This is tolerable in Greece because of it's small size, it would be like someone travelling from Margaretville, New York to Kingston or Oneonta for a doctor (for those of you who know the Catskills), but it's still ridiculous.

We need to be careful because if a nationwide healthcare system has to types of problems, we oculd be seeing a call to reverse it.

I do think we need some form of universal health care, but we need to learn from the problems of the other countries who have it.

by DTOzone 2009-03-09 10:56PM | 0 recs
I went to a doctor recently for a test

And when it came time to interpret it, they gave me the wrong answer. Basically, they didn't know what they were talking about.

I have another major issue, that (corporate) elements in the medical establishment are fraudulently trying to say doesn't exist. (But its so old and so COMMON - many of us get it to varying degrees, that it was mentioned in the Bible, and the fraud was mentioned in a major business magazine recently, not exactly a radical newspaper, but they are still getting away with it.)

The US medical system is broken on a massive scale. We have extreme rationing now, we just don't realize how badly we are being cared for or how much it hurts us. (The average doctor visit is 8 minutes, and much of that is not talking to the doctor.)

last year I had a major cytochrome p450 drug interaction happen that I had to figure out myself.. my doctor didn't know about it. I started losing sight in one eye, luckily it has been getting better.

That kind of mistake happens every day. For the money doctors make, they DON'T earn it.

They ones that take insurance are usually trying to fit so many patients into the day that they couldn't possibly do a good job.

That may work okay for 75-80% of patients, but when you have a complicated medical situation, you shouldn't be forced to try to figure it out yourself.

by architek 2009-03-10 08:01AM | 0 recs
Yes that's terrible

and I never defended our system, I simply said the other systems are not necessarily ribbons and rainbows.

by DTOzone 2009-03-10 09:25AM | 0 recs
When measured by mortality and healthy lifespan

increasingly, rapidly, they are substantially better than ours.

People lives longer and that time is spent healthier.

by architek 2009-03-10 02:45PM | 0 recs
so you're solution is

just pick any universial health care system because any of them will be better?

by DTOzone 2009-03-10 09:23PM | 0 recs
Re: We someone had to say it

People will always complain. I'm a Canadian and I'm so happy to have our system. It isn't perfect especially with all the aging baby boomers putting a strain on the system. The American system doesn't come close to ours from what I can tell. If any country should have a great health system it should be you guys.

by Politicalslave 2009-03-10 03:21AM | 0 recs
Thats what my Canadian friends say too.

They come here to make money, but if they get sick, they go back.

by architek 2009-03-10 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: We someone had to say it

Part of those changes in the Canadian system, I submit, are due to the influence of the American medical system, Reaganomics (reduced taxes, corporatism), and our own focus on giving better medical care or any care to those who can afford it (social Darwinism).

Am I wrong?
 

by MainStreet 2009-03-10 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Developed Nations Without Healthcare

There does not seem anyway that the Obama administration can provide universal health care under our present capitalist system without further bankrupting the country through ballooning deficits (borrowed capital) and a National Debt, which is already out of control.

Given our economic crisis, the time is ripe to introduce a single payer system run into America, a system that is modeled on the care provided in any of a number of social democracies in Europe or Canada.

The myths created by the Republican servants of the AMA, the hospital corporations, and the pharmaceutical companies must be destroyed once and for all.

by MainStreet 2009-03-10 06:50AM | 0 recs
Single payer

They could just copy the Canadian system verbatim..

Or expand Medicare to everybody.

Seriously, we can't wait another ten years for "increased efficiency" which is a nice way of saying more cost shifting to the ill and uninsured.

That 33% of every dollar the insurance companies get is a LOT of money.

by architek 2009-03-10 08:06AM | 0 recs
as it should be

why do you think it is this way. Democrats have never given a crap about universal healthcare.

by southasiawatch 2009-03-10 06:50AM | 0 recs
Both "parties" are utterly beholden

to their corporate masters.

Stroke of genius, a black candidate, I have to say.

And the GOP crossover voters in the caucus states.. another stroke of genius.

Whoever or whatever is behind this, they are smart. Very smart.

by architek 2009-03-10 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Both "parties" are utterly beholden

Yeah, I'm pretty sure these people are behind it all.

by fogiv 2009-03-10 08:24PM | 0 recs
Your PUMA is showing

just can't get over it, can you? Whatever credibility you had (and you had little) is gone.

by DTOzone 2009-03-10 09:22PM | 0 recs

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