Now I’ve met Ezra I can stop calling him the young punk. He has written another excellent review of health care in universal coverage nations, including socialized medicine in the heart of America for our allegedly most treasured citizens.
It’s called The Health of Nations. Go read it.
It’s not entirely without flaws, almost all to do with the lack of good recent data that’s a problem with these comparisons and a need to conserve space. He skips over the UK’s private insurance system which enables the rich to trade up for elective surgery, and the recent increases in spending under Blair which have enable the Brits to buy spare capacity in private countries, (and ramped up GPs pay!). It would be nice to have Ezra do something similar on Japan and Holland (although Japan looks something like Germany plus a Canadian fee schedule, and Holland looks like an Enthoven-wet dream).
What’s also to some extent missing is the changes that have happened recently. Humphrey Taylor remarked to me on Sunday that Americans dont realize how much other systems are changing as ours essentially never does. The Brits have gone to 30% P4P in primary care; the Dutch to individually purchased insurance in a managed competition framework; the Danes and the New Zealanders have added rapid deployment of IT (100% EMR use in ambulatory care); whereas the Australians have added a private top up layer over their traditional socialized medicine system; the Swiss have their individual mandate.
Of course all of these systems have their problems and all are changing; we’re stuck in 1991. And in fact the VA system, although it works very well it about to be hit with a wave of Iraq war vets who have real problems–and is unlikely to get the resources it needs to deal with them.
And although it goes without saying to those in the know, we should keep repeating that this is the only system that visits not only ill health on the unlucky but often financial disaster too.