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Healthcare – the cost conundrum in US healthcare


If you are interested in health care, then this article by Atul Gawande at The New Yorker, is well worth a look.

The article begins:-

It is spring in McAllen, Texas. The morning sun is warm. The streets are lined with palm trees and pickup trucks. McAllen is in Hidalgo County, which has the lowest household income in the country, but it’s a border town, and a thriving foreign-trade zone has kept the unemployment rate below ten per cent. McAllen calls itself the Square Dance Capital of the World. “Lonesome Dove” was set around here.

McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.

That’s right US$3000 more than the average local earnings.

This article paints a picture of costs and health care that is grimly fascinating, though disturbing.

Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs, and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance.

Simply unbelievable.

Yet we ought to consider just how large a percentage of the NZ Government’s tax take goes on Vote Health, plus spending by ACC, health insurers and individuals – before we take a look how we do it better in NZ attitude. Most people would be surprised at how large the NZ spend is, especially in percentatge terms.

Adam found the article well worth the time.

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One Comment
  1. 11/07/2009 19:48

    “Most people would be surprised at how large the NZ spend is, especially in percentatge terms.”

    Yep. Health about $4000 per taxpayer, add $1000 for ACC, $400 for the dentist, $400 for the doctor, $1000 for private insurance and pretty soon you are up to 12-20% of average before tax income.

    Add in waiting lists which are a personal cost and we have little to be smug about. The major disadvantage (advantage?) of the US system is you know more of the costs up front instead of the steady and hidden leaching of a social security system.



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