succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, March 31, 2008

The cost of healthcare

This graph (of healthcare dollars as % of GDP for several countries from 1970 and today; from Ezra Klein via Paul Krugman) provides important context to the healthcare debate. As Klein says, "On our side of the border we spend far more than they do, don't insure 47 million people, and give really excellent care to the upper middle class and the rich." I hate that whenever it is brought up that other countries (Canada, the UK, France) manage some aspects of healthcare better than us (like, oh, providing actual healthcare to all of their citizens) the typical response is nothing but criticism of their systems without acknowledging how fundamentally broken ours is. Ok, fine, so there are things we might want to do differently from countries like Canada. But let's start with the obvious - what we're doing sucks, a lot, in inexcusable ways for such a great and prosperous country. And since the criticisms of other countries inevitably seem to come from a belief that America is always better and awesome at everything, why assume that when we bring up other country's systems we mean to simply import their ideas wholesale? If we're so great and all, doesn't it stand to reason that we could take what other government's have done, learn a thing or two, and actually improve upon those ideas? Why are certain members of our society and government so determined to keep sticking their heads in the sand about this problem, all because admitting that we're perhaps worse at something than some other country(ies) would, what, hurt our collective feelings? Mean our dicks were smaller?


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