Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Better Healthcare: What Does the World Want Most? Why Does the US Want More?

The United Nations are currently running a survey in 194 countries of the world to ask what we all want most from future development. There were 16 options offered and contributors could choose 6 from the list.

These are the overall results so far

We can see that overall the desire for better healthcare is the second highest priority around the world, whereas the desire to take action on climate change is the least most important.

Interestingly the desire for better healthcare is not consistent from country to country. In the UK it is our 8th priority and this is consistent with UK being a more highly developed country thus we can spend more on our health services, presumably generating better services - the situation is the same in similar countries. Perhaps we are happier with our health services relative to other priorities, perhaps we are have more leisure and thus have time to consider other priorities whereas poorer countries have to concentrate on living! 

There is however one exception to this rule. If we take a look at the amount each country spends on healthcare and correlate it to the number of people in that country who profess a desire for better healthcare we get this table:

We can see a reasonable correlation (the red line) between health spend and desire for better healthcare - the more we spend the less the desire. The exception is the US - it spends nearly 3x the UK, 4x that of Czech Republic but has more people asking for a better health service and occupies a spot well above the red line. Why?

We know that the US system is based on insurance and tends to be more expensive to run - but other countries have largely private health systems and spend much less. Perhaps ironically as today marks the beginning of the partial shutdown of US public services because one political party are blocking the introduction of a policy that would give a measure of healthcare to everyone in the US, one possible explanation is that 17% (50 million people) of the population of the US have minimal healthcare - a third world population in a first world country in terms of healthcare.

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