Bruce Godfrey at Crablaw summarizes why single-payer health care works better than the current US system so that you don’t have to.
The US spends a greater portion of its GNP on health services than almost any other country in the world. Part of this may be the results of inefficiencies introduced by competition, in contradiction to the traditional economic model of competition as a reducer of prices and costs. Part of this inefficiency may come from the different, non-standardized coding systems used by various practitioners and insurers for different treatments and maladies, increasing administrative burdens and the likelihood of physician (and other) errors and delays.
Read the whole post. The first commenter links to a paper by Milton Friedman explaining how health care costs have skyrocketed in the entire developed world, and how what he describes as the “mixed system” in the US (since a little less than half of its health spending is governmental, as opposed to near-zero) contributes to gross inefficiency.
Unfortunately, even though he freely admits that the fully government systems of France, Britain, Sweden, and Canada do better than the US system, he advocates the complete deregulation of health care, blighting an otherwise good analysis. When it’s been demonstrated that the government can deliver health care far more efficiently than the free market, it’s generally a good idea to make the system more centralized and governmental.
In addition, Friedman cites two different myths about why the US spends more on health care than the rest of the first world. The first is that Britain and Canada have very long waits; in fact waits for vital procedures are shorter in Canada than in the US, and even waits for elective procedures are fairly short in Canada.
The second myth is that doctors make less money outside the US; although it’s true, it’s a fairly small part of the cost differential: there are about 1.5 million doctors in the US, making on average something like $200,000 per year, whereas doctors in the UK seem to make on average between half and two thirds of that. If American physician salaries dropped to British levels, US health spending would go down $100-150 billion a year; if American health expenditure dropped to British levels, spending would go down about $1 trillion a year.