Inefficiency in our health care system.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve taken a number of different approaches to understanding the delivery of health care in the US. Largely, we have talked about health care quality, access and disparities. You may be asking ourselves if we are getting what we pay for (estimated at over $3.3 trillion in 2016). A student in PHS 795 finds a report that places us 50th out of 55 countries in efficiency. They write:

U.S. Ranks 50th out of 55 Countries in Health Care Efficiency

Lisa Du, in reporting findings from Bloomberg’s Health-Care Efficiency Index (2014), reports, “America was 50th out of 55 countries in 2014, according to a Bloomberg index that assesses life expectancy, health-care spending per capita and relative spending as a share of gross domestic product. Expenditures averaged $9,403 per person, about 17.1 percent of GDP, that year — the most recent for which data are available — and life expectancy was 78.9. Only Jordan, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Russia ranked lower.”


This is significant when considering the impact that the healthcare system has on the U.S.’s GDP/GNP. The article notes that the time period of the report covers the first year of implementation for the Affordable Care Act, but, as a long term program, the effects of the ACA couldn’t have affected life expectancy yet. However, it does have significant impact on the GDP. The thought schema here is that if we know that those insured spend more of healthcare services than those whom are uninsured, then by providing mass coverage, the overall consumer expenditures for health-related services would increase. This retionale is purely economic and categorizes ethical implications secondarily, though not necessarily lesser.


4 thoughts on “Inefficiency in our health care system.

  1. I think one important thought to add to this was brought up during lecture when considering the investment of time and health. Simply expanding health insurance coverage does not necessarily mean more people will utilize this insurance. John Mullahy brought up an interesting point when discussing time as an aspect of the health care system. He mentioned during his lecture that even with the notion of “free” health care, people’s utilization patterns of health care has not changed as much as many thought it would. During this research, he said that many brought up the costs of time associated with accessing health care. From this point of view, I’m not sure that we can assume the GDP associated with health care will increase simply due to increased coverage of health insurance. If the time costs associated with accessing health care were somehow decreased and health insurance coverage was improved, then I think we may see a higher rate of increase in the GDP compared to just increasing health insurance coverage alone. Although I do agree, here in America we spend a lot of money on health care without evidence of improved health to back this spending.


    • I agree with your comments that simply giving everyone free health care isn’t a simple fix to our chronic health problems. We need to look at actual ACCESS to health care (travel times, available hours, etc.). There are many more barriers to healthcare than simple payment.


  2. A very interesting article, although unfortunately, unsurprising. It reminded me of an article I read for another class, PHS 879 “Politics of Health Policy”. In it the author describes that the United States has a shortage of nurses, but also a problem with unnecessary procedures. So, we are essentially in need of more trained professionals to carry out pointless tasks.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see this problem going away without rather strict legislation at the federal level. The fact is, there are many chronic diseases which we are desperate to cure. Health disparities are also incredibly salient to humans because they are directly correlated to length of life. For these reasons, we will always value health over education and politics.

    I wish president Hillary Clinton the best of luck.


  3. This is very unfortunate.

    Just to add a little more fact… Despite 8,508 USD (purchasing power parity, 2011), the largest health expenditure per capita among the 11 countries followed by 5,669 USD in Norway and 5,643 USD in Switzerland, Americans are living shorter lives under poorer health throughout life: particularly performing disadvantages in adverse birth outcomes, injuries and homicides, adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, drug-related mortality, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and disability, compared to 16 peer countries!!!!!!

    Some of the (rather obvious…) front-runners are UK, Switzerland, and Sweden in terms of overall ranking in 2013. Most efficient health care chart is interesting – just that Hong Kong and Singapore are… more like cities… which probably makes it easier for them to pursue and maintain efficient systems!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s