“What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!” – Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, from Time Enough for Love
Who knew that Swiss folks were notorious for so much more than being extremely punctual chocolate-loving yodelers?
Turns out that the Swiss healthcare system is an almost utopian mix of public support and private insurance. There’s enough free market notions to set Tea Party wing-nut ideologues panting with excitement – insurance is tied to the individual, for example, and not to the employer. On the other hand, the government
coerces mandates a minimum level of individual insurance, the system is wholly funded by taxes, and coverage is universal. As such, it gladdens the heart of many a fascist liberal pinko.
The numbers tell the story, don’t they?
Just the Facts
A life expectancy of 80.5 years for men and 84.7 years for women (best in the world) and infant mortality rate of 3.6 per 1,000 (8 per 1,000 in the U.S.). Healthcare costs in Switzerland are 11.4% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Compares favorably with Germany and France at 11.6%, and certainly with the U.S. sitting at 17.6% in 2010.
And who would quibble with those facts, reminded that they are Wikipedia-strong. Carved in virtual stone, as it were. Some more:
In 2014, the average monthly compulsory basic health insurance premiums (with accident insurance) in Switzerland are the following:
This is the bare minimum, mind you. Additional bunion-removing insurance adds just a smidge more.
So, if you gotta get sick, the facts tell us that Switzerland is just a groovy place in to be ill. Even that bastion of the free market, Forbes magazine, seems to think so. Problem is, it works swell only if you’re Swiss and live in Switzerland.
Just as the Danes are satisfied with their own particular mix of private and public (90% approval), the Swedes think their health care system is just lagom (tack så mycket), while the Germans will keep theirs and with ruthless pragmatism charge everyone else who is not German. Swedes are not amused by this Teutonic trickery:
But the recent case of Johanna, a Swedish woman residing in Germany who was left with 130,000 kronor ($18,500) in medical bills after she gave birth prematurely while visiting family in Sweden, shows that the system doesn’t always work, especially for mobile Europeans who divide their time between more than one EU country.
As for the Canadians, they don’t think much of the Europeans. They got their own set of facts:
- 7.61 death rate in Canada, versus 10.25 in Denmark, and even lower than the Brits, who are dropping off at the equally alarming rate of 10.05.
- 9.7% of GDP spent on healthcare. Suck it, France!
- 17% percentage of health care dollars spent on
bureaucracyadministration, versus 31% in the United Status. Take that, Yanks!
Canadians like their system just fine. Keep yer mitts offa it.
In the land of the free and home of the brave, no one seems to be happy. This porridge is too hot, and this one’s too cold. But, when medical insurance federal laws are written by insurance company insiders themselves, that’s the bed you get to lie in (“Political Entrepreneurship, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare, Part II“)
Health Care: an Arm and a Leg
It sure costs a bundle for healthcare in the U.S. Why exactly?
The arcane mysteries of Google’s algorythm provides some clues:
Query: why does America spend so much on healthcare?
Answer #1: Why Does the U.S. Overspend on Health Care? One Simple Reason, by Daily Finance.
There may have been a champagne bottle or two popped at Daily Finance when this page hit #1 on Google for this keyphrase. In any event, sure glad it’s only ONE simple reason. Broad hint: we’re living longer, and end-of-life care costs heaps and bunches.
Answer #2: ”Why Does U.S. Health Care Cost So Much? The Hidden-in-plain-sight Answer“ This article is a little, check that, a LOT more scholarly, because it’s written by an actual, white-coat-and-stethoscope doctor, but with an obviously different conclusion.
The reason that health care costs 17% of GDP, is that we don’t live in Switzerland:
The explanation is, in fact, clear, but is seldom pointed out, even by critics such as ourselves. It is a consequence of the fact that the United States is not only the only country that finances health care through market-driven private insurance, but we are also the only country that allows prices to be set through the private marketplace.
Maybe Americans should just eat more chocolate and Swiss Cheese.
That’s it for today, thanks for dropping in and visiting for a spell. If reading about health care is your thing, don’t neglect Part 1 of the Obamacare series. Otherwise, a simple subscription by Email may alert to another article on matters health-related. And if you’d like to play nurse and doctor with a significant other, recommend a stethoscope and other accoutrements. See right.
All photo credit for the Shona Witch Doctor goes to Hans Hillewaert
Second photo is of New Orleans Flint Goodrich Hospital in 1941, from the Works Progress Adminstration archives.
This post was featured in the Carnival of Wealth, Innumeracy Division, over at Control Your Cash. And, prominently dumped on over at Financial Uproar (much obliged).