As the debate around healthcare reform in the U.S. rages on, we are inundated with data from either side of the political spectrum that strive to reinforce the major points of the plans under proposal. The media is even doing comparative analysis; on CNN, Lou Dobbs has been running series of segments comparing the current U.S. healthcare system to other systems around the world. These segments (one of which can be viewed here), are full of stats and metrics, including patient satisfaction levels.
One of the common practices in these comparison is to compare spending levels (in absolute spend or percentage of country GDP) with average life expectancy. The theory is that greater spend levels should yield longer life expectancy. Consider the following data:
These data do not bear out that theory – the country in these data with the longest life expectancy, Japan, spends the least on healthcare. What’s going on?
Before we jump to the conclusion that healthcare is too expensive relative to the outcome, I would suggest that we take a critical look at the data to see what, beyond public policy, could lead us to the data we see here.
What do you think? If you have thoughts, please leave a comment. One caveat, though – it is not my goal to open up a political discussion. Please consider only the data and possible sources of bias or error that could impact our interpretation.
In my next blog, I’ll look at five factors that may impact the interpretation.
Sr. Vice President, Consulting Services and Resource Management