Health Care Costs from Around the World

Big thanks to Marc Chung for forwarding this along. Visual Economics has put together a huge visual comparison of the cost of health care from around the world. What you see above is a snippet of just the top of the comparison, the full page graphic (mirror link) is packed full of more details.

Some of the highlights are:

  • Avg annual cost of health care per capita is about $3,000 in most of the modern world, but almost $5,800 in the US. Switzerland, Iceland and France just cracked $3,000 as the 2nd highest with the US almost double that and everyone else between $2,200 and $2,900.
  • The US’s infant mortality rate is the highest.
    • UPDATE #1: Reader KG gave a really good explanation below as to why the US’s infant mortality rate is higher than other nations; KG points out that our advancements in medicine have developed techniques that keep newborns alive longer than other countries. Give it a read.
  • The US’s life expectancy is the lowest.

Could this all be related to our obsession with food and growing obesity problem? And then if you decide “yes”, then the next question is “What causes our obsession with food?”

UPDATE #2: To clarify, I’m not blaming the infant mortality rate on obesity, I did a poor job clarifying that. I was addressing the overarching issue of the US’s expensive health care.

I would go out on a limb and say that our lifestyle creates a high-pressure environment that is ripe for addictive relationships with substances that bring moments of tranquility – food and drugs equal here, but highly satiating foods are much more accessible and accepted than highly satiating drugs.

What are American’s missing that would help them cope with stress more constructively? I’m not asking what would be better (e.g. exercise) but rather, what is it about our lives that creates this hole we so consistently feel a need to fill?

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0 Responses to Health Care Costs from Around the World

  1. KG March 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Actually, the reason the US has such a high infant mortality rate is because we have the technology to allow babies to survive pregnancy/delivery/neonatal complications that would otherwise be fatal in other countries. For those of you who don’t know the true definitions of neonate and infant, neonate = birth to 4 weeks, infant = 4 weeks to 1 yr. The advances we have made in this country have made it possible to keep those neonates alive long enough to be called infants. Take a look at neonatal and prenatal deaths and US rates should be reversed compared to other countries. The suggestion that obesity is the reason for the spike in US infant mortality is pretty bold. There is a Point A and a Point B and they don’t always connect so easily. Yes, obesity in pregnancy can cause major problems for the baby. But things like high blood pressure, genetics, side effects of necessary medications used by the mother, unforeseen complications in delivery, multiple births, etc. (I could go on for days) can all occur in women who are not obese or have a family history of obesity.

    • Riyad Kalla March 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

      KG, thank you for taking the time to clear things up — I wasn’t aware of this differentiation when it comes to new-borns, but it’s an important distinction when putting stats like these together. I’ve updated the post above with links down to your comment so folks can get a bit more info.

      Also you are absolutely right about the obesity thing — I didn’t mean to claim that was directly tied to infant mortality. I was actually changing context back to the issue of “US has the most expensive health care” and didn’t transition at all into it. I added another update to clarify.

  2. KG March 2, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    Riyad, I knew what you were trying to say, but I wasn’t sure that all readers would. Looking back at what I said, I sounded pretty arrogant, so I’m sorry for that. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

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