Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute has written an excellent policy analyis showing that the health care systems of other countries often don’t live up to the claims made for them by American advocates of government-run health care. His findings include the following:

  • Health insurance does not mean universal access to health care.

  • Rising health care costs are not a uniquely American phenomenon.

  • In countries emphasizing government control, patients face waiting lists and rationing.

  • The most successful nationalized systems incorporate market mechanisms.

One of the most interesting features of Tanner’s analysis is his international comparison of out-of-pocket patient spending. In 8 of the 12 countries examined, patients cough up more of their own money as percentage of total health care expenditures than we do in the U.S.

As shown on page 27 (figure 4), the citizens of Canada, Norway, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Greece face higher out-of-pocket expenditures than Americans. Moreover, out-of-pocket expenditures in France and Germany are about the same as ours.

This is a long paper (about 35 pages, not including the notes), but it is well worth the time it takes to digest it.

Comments 3

  1. Marc Brown wrote:

    This is a very poor paper, David – if the UK section is anything to go by it is riddled with errors and reliance on very outdated sources. His attitude is aptly summed up by his flippant remark – ‘there is nothing wrong with the wealthy being able to pay more to receive better care’. Er, yes there is. That’s the whole point.

    Posted 25 Mar 2008 at 12:04 pm
  2. Joe C. wrote:

    Marc, you’re the king of unsubstantiated posts. Since this paper is riddled with errors, it should be easy to reveal one of the errors. And please provide some sort of real source to support your claim of finding an error. Let’s have it!

    Posted 25 Mar 2008 at 2:15 pm
  3. SmartDoc wrote:

    I don’t get the Sicko care advocates’ vague criticisms. This was a very interesting, extremely well researched analysis (340 references reviewed).

    Posted 25 Mar 2008 at 5:27 pm

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