One of our favorite bloggers, Jason Shafrin of Healthcare Economist, hosts the most recent Cavalcade of Risk – The March Madness Edition, with an “elite eight” risk-related posts. My favorite article in this edition comes from Jaan Sidorov (another of our favorite bloggers), writing about “healthcare tithing”. Jaan looks at the much-discussed discrepancies between how much we spend on healthcare in the US and how much other countries spend. When the values are graphed, the US appears to be a significant outlier. Our per-capita GDP does put us near the top of the scale, but our per-capita healthcare spending is dramatically higher (to the tune of more than 50% higher) than any of the other countries, even those that have a similar or higher GDP.
Jaan lets out his inner economist in this post, and provides interesting reasoning to explain the US position on the per-capita GDP/healthcare spending graph. His discussion about our wealth inequality may be a key factor. One would otherwise expect Luxembourg and Norway (with per capita GDP higher than or equal to the US) to have healthcare spending that is similar to that of the US. But since our healthcare spending is tallied on the per-person basis, our wealth inequality might make the average spending data appear skewed.
In addition to comparing our healthcare spending to religious tithing (where one is expected to give 10% of ones income to the church), Jaan notes that our willingness to spend more on our healthcare “doesn’t mean that we’re getting our money’s worth…” The article is an interesting perspective on how our healthcare spending compares with other developed countries.