Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Prof. Krugman's mini-poll of Canadians on Health Care


Anonymous said...

He really doesn't know, does he?

Anonymous said...

Why the focus on Canada? Admittedly the Canadian health care system is apparently not so great. But a six person pole among a sample of unknown origin and bias doesn't do much to convince me one way or another.

More broadly, why the repeated focus on Canada or the UK? What about France, Germany, or the Scandinavian countries? It seems that Germany has universal health care which the wealthier can supplement with private insurance to get more perks. They spend less and get better outcomes than in the US, and are more satisfied with their system than their US counterparts. Interestingly, the Germans "view health care as part of the cement that binds a people sharing the same geography into a genuine nation." http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/reprint/13/4/22.pdf
To be fair, the title of the referenced piece is, "Germany's Health Care System: It's Not The American Way," which, of course, could be a double entendre.

Instead of closing our minds by looking only, and repeatedly, at Canada and the UK, where they are apparently screwing it up, why not investigate countries where they are getting universal health care right to see how they are doing it? France and Germany, or the Scandinavian countries may be good places to start.


Beth said...

RE: More broadly, why the repeated focus on Canada or the UK?

When Canada's program was new, it was touted as an example of socialized medicine that was working. The same goes for Great Britain. As time has passed, both of these systems have become overwhelmed by their fundamental flaws. It is a simple law of economics that when something is perceived to be free, or priced below its free market price, it will be over-consumed and eventually lead to shortages. This doesn't happen immediately. There is always a lag time.
The greater the "wedge" between the consumer and the one who pays for the service or good, the greater and faster this effect will be seen.
I just read a helpful explanation of this in an article by Arthur Laffer (of the Laffer curve) which you may find interesting: "The Prognosis for National Health Insurance"

RE: a six person pole among a sample of unknown origin and bias doesn't do much to convince me one way or another.

And it shouldn't. The clip is meant to be illustrative, not a proof. For more information see "An Unsatisfying Change?" by John Lott.

I do not know enough about the Scandinavian, German or French systems to comment specifically. Thank you for the source you referenced. Any others you can recommend would be welcome.

RE: They spend less and get better outcomes than in the US.

This is in fact not true. I am currently reading up to learn more about this and will post on it when I have sufficient information. If you have the time or interest, please send me the reports which make this claim. The devil is in the details.

Thank you again for your comments. the discourse is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

YOu might want to start with the WHO report on health care: http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

As I understand it, the ranking is based on outcomes such as infant mortality, etc., and also puts results in context by considering the percent of GDP spent on health are. The US is ranked 37th... Behind France (#1), Germany, all the Scandinavian countries, the UK, Canada, and, obviously, many others.

Beyond that, I don't have much primary data. I listen to talk radio and I have noticed that the progressive hosts cite the WHO report and talk about France, Germany, Scandinavia, etc. The right wing calls names and talks about Canada, Canada, Canada, England (different from UK, who ranks better than we do?), Canada, Canada, England, ad nauseam. Something tells me that if the opposition, that seems compelled to talk about death panels (which, I understand, have actually been recently supported by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich)which aren't in any legislation currently under consideration, that motivated to spend lots of money to supply buses for astro turf protests, and that is otherwise endeavoring to distort the debate had negative examples of socialized medicine emanating from France, Germany, and Scandinavia, we would have heard about it until we are sick of it. But we haven't.

Let me know what you find out. With your background you should be able to make quick work of finding statistics about the measures of the effectiveness of health care, s well of the cost.


Beth said...

The WHO evaluation of health care systems is one I am familiar with and am also aware of some rather glaring faults within it. I hope to have time in the future to devote a post on it.

To address here the example of infant mortality which you raise in your comment, the US is indeed ranked 37th, but the comparisons (and the the the rankings) are invalid.

The US includes in its infant mortality statistics a significantly larger number of births. We include low birth-weight and premature infants which other countries do not include as live births. Since those babies have a much lower survival rate, this skews the rankings against us.

The WHO evaluation in general is heavily weighted in favor of socialized health care delivery. Since US health care is less socialized than other countries, it is no surprise that we do not rank as highly as those countries which are heavily socialized. Because of this bias, the entire report is problematic.

There are other points I could make, but they will have to wait for a full post.