The US Isn’t As Bad At Healthcare Outcomes As You Might Believe

Not much time today but here is an interesting and important article by Avik Roy debunking some of the conventional wisdom about the substandard incomes produced by the American health care system. This is interesting:

Another point worth making is that people die for other reasons than health. For example, people die because of car accidents and violent crime. A few years back, Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa asked the obvious question: what happens if you remove deaths from fatal injuries from the life expectancy tables? Among the 29 members of the OECD, the U.S. vaults from 19th place to…you guessed it…first. Japan, on the same adjustment, drops from first to ninth.

The entire article – it’s short – is worth your time. Arnold Kling pointed to this article and had this observation:

I think this study offers more reason to believe that the U.S. is really number 1 when it comes to health care outcomes. Still, it may not show that the U.S. is number 1 in terms of cost-effectiveness of health care. My guess is that comparing the additional amount that we spend on health care to the additional longevity we obtain would yield a very large cost per year of life saved.

I have long argued against using longevity statistics to judge what I once called the international health care Olympics. As I pointed out in that essay, it would lead policymakers to make some really perverse choices. But even if we are number 1 in terms of medically-treatable life expectancy, that is no reason to be complacent that our system is cost effective.

Lot’s of food for thought here. I’ll hopefully get back to this by the end of the week.

About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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