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USA Healthcare Screwed Up



August 19, 2009 – Comments (19)

USA healthcare is overpriced due to Gov't interference say some of our more vocal members.

I disagree. I believe USA healthcare is costly because of to little Gov't interference, allowing too much money to be sucked out of the system by Insurers who make no contribution to healthcare.

As a measure of Gov't Interference, US Gov't spending accounts for 46% of healthcare spending in the USA. I went in search of a Country whose Gov't spends nothing on healthcare and eliminates any risk of Gov't screwing things up. Such a Country does not exist.

So the next best thing I could find was a country in which Gov't spends 10% of the healthcare dollars and private spending is 90%. Unfortunately even that tiny amount of gov't spending screws things up enough to raise the cost of healthcare to 10% of the Countries GDP, just like Socialist Netherlands which spends 8% of GDP on healthcare (The USA is at 16% and rising).

In 2003, according to

The small Gov't country has .04 physicians for 1000 people. The Netherlands has 3.1. USA 2.8

The small Gov't country has 1.5 hospital beds for 1000 people. The Netherlands has 11.1. USA 6.5.

The small Gov't country spends $163 international dollars per person on healthcare. $18. by the Gov't.

The Netherlands spends $2564, int dollars $1683 by Gov. The USA spends $5274 int dollars, $2368 by Gov't.

Life expectancy in the Netherlands 79 years, 10.6% lived in ill health. In the USA life expectancy is 77 years 12.% lived in ill health.

Life expectancy in the small Gov't country is 52 years. There is no stat for years lived in ill health.

Based on these statistics it easy for some to conclude that the smaller the Gov't involvement in healthare, the better and cheaper the health outcomes become.

One has only to look at the stats to determine if we can do better, and what direction will get us where we want to go.

19 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 19, 2009 at 11:37 PM, RonChapmanJr (30.08) wrote:

I am not sure I understand the point of this post.  Are we supposed to think that the Netherlands with a population of 16 mil bears any resemblance to the US with a population of 300 mil? 

Find a country that has universal healthcare that has the same size and diversity of the US and then we can chat about that working here.  Oh wait, that's impossible.

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#2) On August 19, 2009 at 11:55 PM, danteps (28.65) wrote:

Why do we need to overhaul the entire system in one piece of legislation?  Health care is a complex industry with a myriad of issues to be addressed.

The government cannot possibly be the answer . . . the American people should provide the answers. 

Raising taxes is never the solution.  When Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are solvent and self-funding then we can expand government further.  We are in the middle of a depression / recession and we should expand government further and take on more debt?  How are we going to pay for this?

We should raise corporate taxes?  We have some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world already and businesses are relocating elsewhere. 




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#3) On August 19, 2009 at 11:59 PM, devoish (65.70) wrote:


It is not impossible, unless you do not want to try. 


Find me a Country that can deliver healthcare to its people where Gov't is not the answer. There is none.

According to the Nationmaster database:

The United States has a 2008 population of 300,000,000, of which 50,000,000 are uninsured. In 2004 the United States spent $1,847,088,000,000 on healthcare.

The total 2008 population of Germany, France, the U.K, Canada, Swizerland and Denmark is also 250 million, and represents a variety of "socialized, government run, healthcare" systems.

In 2004 Germany spent $288,722,000,000, France spent $211,304,000,000. U.K. spent $173,904,000,000. Canada spent $100,221,000,000. Swizerland spent $50,139,000,000 and Denmark spent $19,480,000,000.

Total combined spending in 2004 is $843,770,000,000.

One Trillion less in 2004 than the USA spent to insure a comparable number of people.

Even if you decide that the US spending covers 300mil people through free walk in emergency rooms, and add that 20% additional spending to the Government run systems, you still spend $830billion less each year.

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#4) On August 20, 2009 at 12:05 AM, danteps (28.65) wrote:

Government is the answer to all of our woes.  I know Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi can build a world class health care system.  They did a great job with Fannie and Freddie.



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#5) On August 20, 2009 at 12:14 AM, devoish (65.70) wrote:


And the financial industry did fine with AIG insurance.


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#6) On August 20, 2009 at 12:23 AM, ajm101 (< 20) wrote:

The government does pretty well with the military, the federal highway system, drug safety, and many other things.  Freddie and Fannie would be quite a black eye if _private industry_ hadn't failed so much more spectacularly, necessitating a massive _government_ bailout.

Anyway, can't some of the conservatives/libertarians here just concede that healthcare is not like other discretionary goods and services?  So far every CAPS member that has practiced medicine (that I have read) supports reform, so maybe they should be heeded.

How about a single payer 'broken leg' plan with optional supplemental private coverage?.  How about more stringently regulated private industry a la power companies (must provide coverage to patients within their area of coverage).

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#7) On August 20, 2009 at 12:38 AM, danteps (28.65) wrote:

Aim . . . I am an MD and trust me there are many MD's that do not support the currently proposed plan.  Reform, yes, but not in one piece of legislation and not with socialized medicine via more government spending. 

I am also from a military background - we do pretty well with the military?  We spend more than any country on Earth.  We should do well.  We waste billions of dollars there too, trust me, I have seen it first hand.

Watch the testimony from 2004 when we wanted to regulate Fannie and Freddie more stringently.  Barney and Waters thought everything was going just fine.  Everyone deserves to live in a house, no matter if they can pay for it or not.  Really?? 

The sense of entitlement in this country is disturbing. 

FYI - I am a liberal, I just don't want to pay any more taxes than I already do.  Enough is enough.  


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#8) On August 20, 2009 at 12:47 AM, devoish (65.70) wrote:


No, they cannot concede anything.

Fannie was entirely Gov't run from 1938 until 1968. It worked very well. In 1968 private interests wanted the opportunity, and the Gov't sold Fannie. Ginnie Mae was created and became the only guarantor of Gov't issued mortgages (until Paulson screwed us with authority he did not have). The Gov't set lending standards for its money lent through Fannie in exchange for the low interest rate. freddie was created because other private interests felt they too should have a piece of the pie and argued competition would improve the market.

Today, it is important to note that the Gov't is the guarantor of your health insirance policy, should UNH be unable to honor it.

Guaranteing the obligations of Private Insurers is something I would like to see Gov't get out of.

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#9) On August 20, 2009 at 12:47 AM, starbucks4ever (85.99) wrote:

"Find a country that has universal healthcare that has the same size and diversity of the US and then we can chat about that working here.  Oh wait, that's impossible."

I think I've seen that kind of talk before. Yes, there is this bunch of Putin's lackeys (Parshev, Panarin, Leont'ev, Shevchenko, and a countess number of others), who like to make the case that Russia is not fit for Western democracy becuase its climate is too cold, or that it shouldn't have a transparent government becuase its traditions are too traditional. Glad they now have a like-minded American who believes that America can't have a normal healthcare system becuase it's too big and too diverse.



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#10) On August 20, 2009 at 12:58 AM, ajm101 (< 20) wrote:

Dan, I don't love this bill or the idea of a government run single payer system either, but the status quo is ridiculuous.  We spend too much for a backward system that punts the sickest people out of private coverage, bankrupts them, and they end up on medicaid.  Privatizing profits, socializing costs, providing bad care.

At this point I would literally take a government administered PBM to pool purchasing power, a need-based subsidized government run catastrophic health insurance company, and a government standardized public/private EMR system in exchange for a total elimination of health "insurance" as we know it to a fee for service system.

Do you have a private practice, and if so is the multi payer reimbursement nightmare as bad as I've heard?  I worked in a healthcare startup for a while and I couldn't believe the mess.

I disagree with you about FRE and FNM, but that's a whole other topic.

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#11) On August 20, 2009 at 1:23 AM, ajm101 (< 20) wrote:

Devoish - my achille's heel is faith in my fellow man.  So are the US has been slow to make right decisions, but gets there eventually.  Healthcare reform will be the same.

Zloj - your last comment in your Mises post cracked me up.  Nihilists are the Austrians economists of academia.

danteps - i didn't say most physicians were for this bill, just reform.

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#12) On August 20, 2009 at 4:34 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Wow. Even after you admitted to me that the private market in health care doesn't really exist, you can't let your anti capitalist mentality go.  How many blogs on health care is this a day now?  4?  5?  How many recs?  5 a piece, give or take?  Maybe it's because you keep getting proven wrong.  I would applaude your resilience, if that resilience actually included an effort to fix your deficiencies.


Boy would I love to get you into this Mises debate.  You figured out the solution to the Economic Calculation problem yet?  It's been 89 years.  We're still waiting.  At least zloj makes an effort.

David in Qatar

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#13) On August 20, 2009 at 6:21 AM, devoish (65.70) wrote:


Thanks for reading.

Did you find that succesful free market economy yet? Or are you still going with the Country that Nationalized its oil industry and uses that money too fund spending and Social programs like Venezuela and Norway?

Free Market success storys... Zero.

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#14) On August 20, 2009 at 9:19 AM, russiangambit (28.71) wrote:

I don't really care who runs the program, let the private insurance companies run it, but the payments should be from a single payes - i.e. federal taxes and everyone should be covered for basics. The there could be additional private market for extra-procedures.

It is no acceptable that a single sick person (say a cancer patient) has to fight a multi-million enterprise, i.e. an insurance company to get reimbursed. This is not a level playing field.

Also, to deny someone coverage because of preexisting conditions is also unaccceptable.

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#15) On August 20, 2009 at 9:34 AM, rofgile (99.24) wrote:

In replay to RonChapmanJr, 

 The size of the US is not the problem with getting universal medicine.  The problem is that the regulation is very complicated (look at the HR3200 bill length), normal people don't understand the details, and liars and scoundrels are making up false claims about it and widely distributing them (death panels, killing granny, it'll ration treatments, etc).

 Insurance works best with the most people in the system.  The more people you have covered in one policy, the lower the risk and therefore the lower you can charge / person.

 US govt insurance would be tremendously cost saving with a large program of 40 million - that's what insurance companies are afraid of.  Instead, they're pushing us to drop the single payer and have small co-ops at the state level.  Why?  They co-op size is smaller, having therefore higher risk and higher premiums - making it easier for commercial insurance to compete on the playing field they want.

 The health care debate is discouraging to me, because it is not about what the best medical care would be for the most people - its about made up issue like death panels. 

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#16) On August 20, 2009 at 9:49 AM, starbucks4ever (85.99) wrote:

"its about made up issue like death panels"

Which, by the way, wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea, but nobody is proposing it. Make up an issue that your opponent never brought up, then defeat him on that issue. Political Rhethoric 101. 

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#17) On August 20, 2009 at 12:34 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


Hey buddy!  Good reply!  Well I think you should come out here and see for yourself.  The standard of living here makes Americans look like paupers. But 0% income tax and 10% corporate tax and a 99.9 percentile on the Heritage Foundation's economic freedom index will do that.  Enjoy your Socialist induced poverty ridden paradise you are creating.  I'll happily stay out here they have enough money to buy America ten times over.

So I notice you complaining again about the "lack of regulation."  Is it normal for you, once shown to be completely wrong, to just wait about 12 hours, hope no one remembers and then say the same thing over again?  It's so tired.  You can make nice arguments against the rent seeking Republican Party.  But no one cares.  Making a real argument against a real opponent, well not so much.

#10) On August 17, 2009 at 4:54 PM, devoish (99.67) wrote:

You didn't really make an argument there, but that's ok. In counter, I could point out that we have 4,000 years of wage and price control intervention that prove that interventionism does not work.

I suspect you're also not correct on your cause and effect logic, nor on your assumptions of licensing in the history of the medical profession and other professions for that matter.  They are pretty timeless policies.

Actually I feel like the argument that you keep using, that "free markets" have never existed anywhere is a pretty striong condemnation of the idea.

As to my cause and effect assumptions, they are as valid as anything you imagine, and I did exclude the discovery of germs which required the AMA and Gov't to regulate for sterile hospitals. The contribution from the first vaccine in 1930? came later.

Nothing changes the fact that "unregulated" is a free for all for criminals.

#11) On August 17, 2009 at 5:25 PM, whereaminow (81.30) wrote:


Cmon now big guy, you're better than that.  Google is an incredible tool.  You're not going to insinuate that the first vaccine came in 1930, and that without government we never would have had a vaccine for anything are you?

A country doctor named Edward Jenner develeoped the first "western" vaccine without government assistance in 1790 - for smallpox. So it took the government 140 years to do what Jenner did on his own?  Not surprising.

Before Jenner, vaccines in Asian and Turkish and many other cultures go as far back as 200 B.C. and probably further.


What is this nonsense about criminals?  Have you lost your marbles?

David in Qatar

#36) On August 18, 2009 at 9:14 PM, zloj (98.51) wrote:

" would not have any remorse for a person that fraudulently claimed to be a non-smoker, then smoked even intermittantly, and demanded that I pay for his/her cancer treatment."

The truth is, under the "Socialist" Canadian system you can't even make a claim that you're paying for his/her cancer treatment becuase their social secity is also socialized. By having a lower life expectancy, and yet retiring at the same age as you, they are essentially subsidizing your pension. Well, in return you pay for their treatment. If you consider all factors, you may find more justice in this socialized system than you give it credit for.

"Who knows?  They've never been subject to a market test." 

Well, we've had a market test already, only with the stock market and its derivatives. The investment banking business hasn't been regulated, and they did go nuts adjusting their risk models, so we are now bailing them out to the tune of several trillion.


#37) On August 18, 2009 at 9:28 PM, whereaminow (81.30) wrote:


You and I have argued enough about the long run outcome of Socialism.

The stock market is heavily regulated (the 2008 SEC Rules and Regulations is 4,006 pages long!), as is the investment banking business. This information you are giving is simply not true.  I advise all to check out Meltdown by Thomas  Woods, in which he dedicates chapter after chapter detailing the regulations and policies that influenced the derivative, housing, and stock markets.

Then we have the Fed, which has regulatory control every instrument created by investment banks.  They knew full well about derivatives and heartily endorsed them.

Here is a brief list of the Fed's regulatory controls:

Bank holding companies
State-chartered banks
Foreign branches of member banks
Edge and agreement corporations
US state-licensed branches, agencies, and representative offices of foreign banks
Nonbanking activities of foreign banks
National banks (with the Comptroller of the Currency)
Savings banks (with the Office of Thrift Supervision)
Nonbank subsidiaries of bank holding companies
Thrift holding companies
Financial reporting
Accounting policies of banks
Business "continuity" in case of an economic emergency Consumer-protection laws
Securities dealings of banks
Information technology used by banks
Foreign investments of banks
Foreign lending by banks
Branch banking
Bank mergers and acquisitions
Who may own a bank
Capital "adequacy standards"
Extensions of credit for the purchase of securities
Equal-opportunity lending
Mortgage disclosure information
Reserve requirements
Electronic-funds transfers
Interbank liabilities
Community Reinvestment Act subprime lending requirements
All international banking operations
Consumer leasing
Privacy of consumer financial information
Payments on demand deposits
"Fair credit" reporting
Transactions between member banks and their affiliates
Truth in lending
Truth in savings

David in Qatar

Report this comment #38) On August 18, 2009 at 9:33 PM, zloj (98.51) wrote:

Wow! That's plenty of regulation. I guess I must give up on that investment banking issue. 


Report this comment #39) On August 18, 2009 at 9:41 PM, whereaminow (81.30) wrote:

And what is the penalty when these regulators fail?  More power and more regulation :)

Maybe now you can see why I embrace the idea of competing arbitrators and competing regulators.

David in Qatar







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#18) On August 20, 2009 at 5:25 PM, devoish (65.70) wrote:


What happened to Shells oil business in Qatar? It is financing the highways, the rails, the hospitals. Of course you have low income taxes. When the USA sits on an oil field the size of the entire country, throws out the private oil industry and finds a market 25 times our size for that oil, we won't have income taxes either.

And when the oil is gone you can go back to pearl diving.

Actually I gave your Emir credit. His investment in hospitals should pay off if you can attract medical tourists from a country that does not take care of their own.

I hope you find that small government free market before you are to old to care.

Seriously. I actually mean that in a nice way.

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#19) On August 21, 2009 at 1:31 AM, BigFatBEAR (28.28) wrote:

Rec #8 from this fellow lefty.

Did anyone see Michael Moore's movie Sicko? I thought he did a great job pointing out some of our healthcare's pitfalls there. Sure, he's a jerk who distorts the facts, but many of his points are still valid.

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