More spending for better health?

More health psending doesn’t nor necessarily pay off with better health outcomes, according to The Economist.

America’s big spending on healthcare doesn’t pay off

AMERICA remains the world’s most profligate spender on health care, according to a report published on November 4th by the OECD, a club of 34 mostly rich countries.

In 2013 America spent, on average, $8,713 per person—two and a half times as much as the OECD average. Yet the average American dies 1.7 years earlier than the average OECD citizen. This longevity gap has grown by a year since 2003.

Americans have the same life expectancy as Chileans, even though Chile spends less than a fifth of what America spends on health care per person.

New Zealand per capita total spending (PPP Int $): 2,447 (2006)

From what I can find life expectancy looks to be similar to Britain as well, so the Britain bar looks about right for New Zealand.

The US has a very expensive insurance based health system which inflates costs substantially but means that people who are fiancially poor are also likely to be health poor relatively.

The chart shows that the level of spending does not necessarily equate to the level of care.

Leave a comment


  1. Robby

     /  18th November 2015

    The problem with health funding is that too much of it is wasted on administration costs, rather than actually fixing what is wrong with patients

  2. Treatment is only part of the health story too, isn’t it? There’s also prevention and, arguably, what might be called “maintenance”? Chileans are probably less sedantary, do more physical work, encounter less pollution and consume less unhealthy foods. They may be psychologically healthier too, more socially connected or something? There may be some advantage in having less health services as an incentive to keep oneself healthier? (Just thinking out loud)
    In the same vein, as to speak, life expectancy isn’t the only measure of health outcomes. We might consider some multi-faceted or derivative measurement of “quality of life”?

  3. David

     /  19th November 2015

    The problem is lawsuits, when your average GP needs to spend around 100k for liability insurance it’s only the beginning because to avoid having your insurance declined you have to provide every test available just in case you might miss something. Then you pay 30% more than Canadians for the same drugs. Little known fact but the biggest single buyer of full priced Viagra is the General Motors health insurance company which covers past and present employees, only guessing but I doubt there is anywhere else on earth where the consumer doesn’t pay his own way for this.


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