The N.Y. Times ran a short article
in today's paper surveying some of the emerging theories, and the developing consensus, among health care economists. After reviewing the usual benchmarks that place the United States at or near the bottom of developed countries in health-care measure despite spending more, and more per capita, than the others, author Jeff Madrick, continues:
What may surprise readers, and certainly surprised this writer, is that Americans, by paying so much more, do not have many more services. In fact, according to recent research, they typically have fewer. Consider the number of doctors. In 2001, the United States had 2.7 doctors per 1,000 people, compared with a median of 3.1 in the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. France, accused of having a doctor shortage in last summer's heat wave, had 3.3 per 1,000.
Also, consider the number of hospital beds. The United States has only 2.9 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared with the O.E.C.D. median of 3.9. Germany has 6.3. The United States is also behind in the actual days spent in a hospital and hospital admissions per capita. These are not necessarily bad in themselves, but the question is why we spend so much.
The reason for the high level of American spending, argue the researchers - Uwe E. Reinhardt of Princeton and Peter S. Hussey and Gerard F. Anderson of Johns Hopkins - is that American doctors and hospitals charge much more. Americans also usually pay significantly more for drugs, they say, and administration expenses are exorbitant.