Chart of the day

I meant to post this last week, but never got around to it. Since it made Krugman’s excellent column on Medicare yesterday, I realized I better.   First, a couple comments on the Krugman column which you really should read.  Basically, it’s about how Medicare is much more cost-effective than private insurance and just how foolhardy raising the Medicare age to 67 would be.  For example:

Wait, it gets worse. Not every 65- or 66-year-old denied Medicare would be able to get private coverage — in fact, many would find themselves uninsured. So what would these seniors do?

Well, as the health economists Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll document, right now Americans in their early 60s without health insurance routinely delay needed care, only to become very expensive Medicare recipients once they reach 65. This pattern would be even stronger and more destructive if Medicare eligibility were delayed. As a result, Mr. Frakt and Mr. Carroll suggest, Medicare spending might actually go up, not down, under Mr. Lieberman’s proposal.

When did Joe Lieberman get so stupid?  Sure, he’s been bad on foreign policy, but he supposedly kept his liberal bonafides on domestic issues while he was at it.  The man is worse than a Republican.  Republicans at least admit that they are– Lieberman just gives bipartisan cover (which the media eats up) to stupid Republican ideas.

The chart already, via Bruce Bartlett:

and a little explanation:

As one can see, the burden of taxes plus private health care spending substantially equalizes the loss of disposable income in the United States and other countries, because we pay 8.6 percent of G.D.P. for health care over and above what the government pays, whereas those in other major countries pay an average of just 2.3 percent of G.D.P. out of their pockets.

Looking at taxes alone, the burden in the United States is 25 percent below the O.E.C.D. average, but including the additional health costs Americans pay, the United States is just 4.7 percent below average.

In short, a substantial portion of the higher tax burden that Europeans pay is really illusory. They are really just paying their health insurance premiums through their taxes rather than through lower wages, as we do.

In discussing how much a better deal other country’s citizens get on their health care with my students, I always hear a version of, “yeah, but they pay higher taxes.”  Yes, for many reasons.  But here’s the thing.  Would you rather pay $10,000 in taxes with $5000 of that going to giving you solid health care coverage or only $4000 in taxes, but then spending another $7000 to pay for private insurance?  We have the most monstrously ineffecient and expensive health care in the world– we’d be so much better off with higher taxes and more efficient health coverage.  Alas, that might be the dreaded socialized medicine.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Chart of the day

  1. Pingback: Get A Health Chart

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