Tuesday, June 21, 2011
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Today, boys and girls, we're going to talk about health care.
More specifically, we're going to talk about health care systems around the world, and the myth that countries like Canada and France have a health care delivery system utopia where everyone is shiny and happy and holding hands.
Catch that REM allusion there?
And I promise to keep the political party jabs and jibes to a minimum, since health care certainly is an issue that warrants discussion because it affects everyone. I do not want to open up the nationalize/privatize debate, but just share some things I learned from an online seminar and (hopefully) make some people at least reevaluate if they think the path we're going down is the best idea.
One of the largest CPA firms in the world, did a worldwide study on health care consumerism, which included polls of health care consumers.
Let me say that again-they actually asked the consumer.
They didn't have a bunch of wealthy middle-aged jerks who are card-carrying Council On Foreign Relations members who can afford private physicians on retainers discuss health care…they asked the people who actually consume health care services from the system at large.
To be specific, they asked 15,735 consumers in 12 countries. Their sampling method was randomly selected from the online population, representative with respect to age, gender, geography and income.
The results are interesting to say the least.
Let's start at the top-how satisfied were people with their country's health care system?
The survey asked for a rating on a scale of one to ten, where satisfied was between 8-10 and dissatisfied was between 1-3.
Remember during the Clinton and Obama health care reform debates, France and Canada were put forth as the Cadillac, the model that the United States should emulate.
And they did finish well, at fourth and fifth, with the United States at tenth. No country really got a mandate from their people, however.
Only one third of those polled in the two "utopia" countries indicated that they were satisfied.
Surprisingly, the number of people in ALL countries surveyed who rated their health care system between four and seven (I called this neutral) was amazingly similar.
Other questions asked about how those polled felt their country's health care system compared to other countries' systems.
This time, France came in second (average of the three answers), with the United States averaging right in the middle, Canada just below the US and Switzerland at the top. Still, I was a little surprised that the two "Cadillac" countries were not coming in with mandates from the people.
The study pointed out that the typical consumer does not have an informed view of other health care systems, so they typically compare to an "idealistic version" of their own system.
One interesting answer-when asked if they'd be willing to travel outside of their country for care, 9% of Canadians and 5% of French answered yes, compared to 3% of Americans. Even though the French think their system is the best in the world, they were almost twice as likely to seek care outside their country.
I think the most interesting information comes from the strengths and weaknesses of the systems as percieved by the consumers.
When looking at system strengths, which considered treatment innovation and up-to-date technology and facilities, the United States ranked second (behind Switzerland) with an average of 69%, and well ahead of the Clinton/Obama "Cadillac" countries France (59%) and Canada (52%).
Now let's look at weaknesses.
When considering consumer focus, wellness focus and wait time, the United States ranked third (behind Switzerland and Belgium) with an average of 30%, ahead of France (34%) and Canada (35%).
Now all of our innovation is not free. The United States spends $5,711 per capita on healthcare, compared to $3,048 spent by France and $2,998 spent by Canada. That means for every dollar they spend, we're spending $1.89.
Add it all up, and it begs the question, what is Switzerland doing and why don't we model after them?
It's really hard to point to France and Canada's national systems being the solution to our health care issues. Their residents appear more satisifed than ours, but at the same time seem to feel that the care they are getting is not as good.
As opposed as I am to socialism (funny because I work in insuance, and industry that exists on socialism), the idea of health care for all is certainly far more noble a cause than taxing Americans to wage war on various smaller nations.
I am still very concerned on how America can really afford to pay for all of its excess. Obama paints a rosy picture, but the government is living on credit, and many former homeowners in the Phoenix city limits could tell you how well that worked out for them.
I guess the point of this, my lengthiest post ever, is this. Be careful what you wish for, America. You may think you're getting this:
And end up with this:
PS-I hope the accounting firm that conducted this study does not object to my quoting their results and displaying two of their slides.