Fascinating article at Boston.com by John McDonough. He comments on a book entitled “The American Healthcare Paradox“. In particular, these sources elaborate on a frequent hobby horse of mine (and many, many others who are far more knowledgeable) – that the U.S. spends way more on healthcare and gets similar or worse results:
The U.S. pays so much more for medical care than does any other advanced nation, and from that societal investment, we get mediocre to poor results on life expectancy (26th place), infant mortality (31st), low birth weight (28th), maternal mortality (25th), you name it. It’s been true since the early 1980s, and we keep looking for solutions from within the health care sector itself.
We might not be looking at all of the relevant information. Apparently there is a connection between the money we do spend on healthcare and the money we don’t spend on social services. Of the advanced (OECD) nations, we spend the absolute least on non-health social services. If you combine the two, we come in 10th place in terms of combined spending.
“Social services expenditures included public and private spending on old-age pensions and support services for older adults, survivor benefits, disability and sickness cash benefits, family support, employment programmes (eg, public employment services and employment training), unemployment benefits, housing support (eg, rent subsidies) and other social policy areas excluding health expenditures.”
. . .
“Inadequate attention to and investment in services that address the broader determinants of health is the unnamed culprit behind why the United States spends so much on health care but continues to lag behind in health outcomes.”
Some great charts in there too. Professor McDonough goes on to suggest that this means that the solution to our healthcare problems can’t be fixed from within, at least not solely within, the healthcare industry.