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November 21, 2002

Why Single Payer is Better Health Care

Now that Gore has put single payer health care on the table, conservatives will be coming out of the woodwork to argue why Canada and Britain show that government-run health care will lead to shortages and long lines.

What they won't mention is France and for good reason. One thing rarely mentioned is that both Canada and Britain spend a far smaller percentage of their national GDP on health care, and far, far less per person on health care. Notably, while this leads to some tough HMO-style restrictions, their health care results are actually better than the US when you look at mortality numbers.

But read this Economist article that cover's France's health care system, one that still spends less than the US but is more comparable. (See the graph to the left comparing spending between countries. The comparable number for Canada is 9.3%)

"By any measure, France's health service is among the best in the world. Life expectancy for women (despite a collective reluctance to stop smoking) is second only to Japan, and the men are not far behind (despite, or because of, a continuing love of wine). There are no waiting lists for hospital treatment; general practitioners are prepared to make home visits, even at night and during the weekend; and the poor get their treatment free. For the rest of the population, the cost is almost, or entirely, covered by a combination of the state's social-security system and co-operative insurance bodies known as mutuelles. Not surprisingly, the French visit their doctors at the first sniff of a cold, go into hospital more often than others, and swallow more pills than anyone except the Japanese."

Sounds damn good doesn't it, especially since they spend only 10% of GDP on health care, while the US spends over 13%. France has a far more quickly aging population, so the article raises alarms, but France would have to increase costs 30% to appoach the costs in the United States.

So don't let those attacking universal health care point to Canada or Britain without forcing them to deal with the fact that the US spends almost twice as large a percentage of GDP on health care as Britain and almost 50% more than Canada.

Posted by Nathan at November 21, 2002 09:48 AM

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Good point. One quibble: the graph on the left makes it look like France spends about 9 or 9.5% of GDP on health care, not 10% as you say. It certainly doesn't look like they're spending very much more than Canada's 9.3% - if that graph is accurate.

Posted by: Ampersand at November 25, 2002 09:24 AM

I think we need to be planning to control, monitor and regularize health care process.

Posted by: Andrew Spark at February 18, 2006 12:25 AM

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