Sunday, September 6, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

After reading my posting of August 17,Dave Weimer has sent along some Powerpoint slides comparing OECD countries that he used in a policy analysis class. Most of the points aren't labeled, but (fortunately for me) it doesn't take a health policy expert to figure out who that dot is to the far right. There are three slides; to see them all click on "Fullscreen" and then on the right and left arrows at the bottom. I presume the caption should say "Fraction" rather than "Percent."OECD Slides


  1. I'm definitely sympathetic to the argument you're making, but I think there's some debate as to whether life expectancy is a good measure of the quality of a health care system. It could reflect other aspects of a society. This a recurring topic on Tyler Cowen's blog, among others.

  2. I agree that life expectancy is not ideal, as so many lifestyle factors enter into it. It's most effective for correcting the common American view that our health care system is somehow better than other countries'.

    But infant mortality? I think that's a much better measure. Take a look at the line in Weimer's chart 3. Every country in Western Europe is below it, plus Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel, Malta, Cuba... The differences are often large; France's rate is just over one-half ours. And, as with life expectancy, other countries are doing this with health care spending 25% to 65% lower than ours.

  3. Great slides! I think that we are in agreement (along with just about every other reasonable person in the world) that the US health care system is off the rails. The next question to ask is, what are the factors pushing it so far from the optimum, and how can we correct them. Shannon Brownlee has made a great case that too much medicine is "making us sicker and poorer." It's an idea that interests me as I ask if nature is good and if science makes us sick. Mostly medical tech is good stuff (I'm not one of those crazy vaccine deniers). But there are way's in which it looks like too much health care can kill e.g.