Sunday, September 20, 2009


Stephen Green, Counterpunch - The relative costs and performance outcomes of the many different healthcare delivery systems in over 200 countries and territories are known, tracked, carefully gathered, and published annually by the World Health Organization. . .

The United States as a government, according to the 2009 World Health Report, expends $3,076 US on healthcare per capita per year, which puts it third in the world behind Luxembourg ($4,992) and Denmark ($3,239) . . .

These, however, are only government healthcare expenditures, and all of the other countries listed here have essentially national, not free-market healthcare systems.

The report also tracks total national healthcare expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product, public and private. Here then are those relative figures, for the top ten countries:

1. United States (15.8%) 2. France (11%) 3. Denmark (10.8%) 4. Switzerland (10.8%) 5. Germany (10.6%) 6. Austria (10.2%) 7. Canada (10.0%) 8. Sweden (9.2%) 9. Spain (8.4%) 10. Japan (8.1%)

The United States relative to its GDP expends, counting both government and private funds, 43% more on health care than does the next highest country, which is France.

Compared with Canada (aren't we always comparing our HC system to Canada's?) the US expends, in public and private funds together, 63% more on healthcare. . .

One standard measure of the effectiveness of our healthcare system might be life expectancy at birth, in years. According to WHO, the nation with the highest life expectancy is Japan, at 83 years, followed by Italy, Australia and Switzerland, at 82 years. You may expect to live to be 81 if you live in Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Andorra. People in Austria, Belgium and Cypress live to the age of 80, on average. Costa Ricans and people in Finland live on average to be 79. Citizens of the U.S., along with those of Chile, Denmark and Cuba die on average at age 78.

The infant mortality rate calculates the number of deaths at birth, per 1000 births, for both sexes. The U.S. is tied at six deaths per thousand with the countries of Thailand, Slovakia, Lithuania and Hungary. Among the countries with fewer than six deaths per 1000 live births are Slovenia, Singapore, San Marino, South Korea, Lithuania, Estonia, Cuba, Cyprus and Andorra.

Maternal mortality rates per 100,000 live births are also rated. The United States loses 11 mothers per 100,000 live births. Countries which lose fewer than that include Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Macedonia. In all, a total of 31 countries suffer fewer than 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

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