U.S. Health Care and Long-Term Deficit Scare Stories

My earlier comments about the how projections of rising health care costs are driving the horror stories about the long-term deficits prompted a number of comments. I will make a few quick points by way of response.

First, my claims about the poor quality and outrageous cost of the U.S. health care are based on OECD data on life expectancy and cost. While some people have noted that this data is not strictly comparable across countries, it is the best data available (I�m open to suggestions, if someone has another source.) I will also point out that the deterioration can be seen by simply examining the change through time. In the early seventies, the U.S. did not have the most expensive health care system, and it had near the longest life expectancy in these data. It now has by far the most expensive system and ranks at the bottom among rich countries in terms of life expectancy. There can be little doubt that the quality of the U.S. health care system has deteriorated hugely over the last three decades relative to the systems in other wealthy countries.

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