[ExI] Healthcare and governments thinking long range

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Jun 20 11:53:17 UTC 2009

2009/6/20 <dan_ust at yahoo.com>

> > Apparently the "pollyanna view" is what in fact happens,
> > since most
> > OECD countries have cheaper, universal systems which result
> > in better overall outcomes.
> I'm not completely familiar with all the various national programs, but my understanding is quality is lower, cost is higher, and just what is covered by the universal aspect is under political control.  You might think this is great, but then I'd wonder about the people who, e.g., cross the border from Canada to get better and more timely healthcare here in the US.

Canadians pay substantially less for their medical care than Americans
and are healthier than Americans. With certain elective procedures
there may be a waiting list in the public health system. In that case,
Canadians can either wait or have the procedure done privately, either
in Canada or in the US. They would still get their health care
cheaper, since as you pointed out they are paying less through their
taxes for their universal health care system than Americans are paying
for their non-universal public system.

> > The only real argument against this that
> > I have
> > heard is that the US population are an intrinsically
> > unhealthy lot
> > compared to the rest of an OECD, so they need higher health
> > care spending just to keep up.
> Well, it might be the only argument you'll accept.  :)  I haven't studied the various systems closely enough to judge what's the case here.  Basic economic theory tells us that nationalized anything should be worse, all else being equal.  So, that points in the direction of explaining why this would be different with healthcare.  (Note: theory tells us how to view the data here.  Without a sound economic theory, we're left with torturing data to get whatever policy recommendations we prefer.  Also, without a sound economic theory, you really don't know if whatever statistical set you're dealing with is telling you something important -- like socialized healthcare works better than a free market system -- or is just caused by other factors, or even just an anomally.)

Empirical fact trumps economic theory. Forgetting this led to the
downfall of the Soviet Union.

Stathis Papaioannou

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