Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

National Healthcare costs: US vs. the Netherlands

with one comment

We really need to get our national act together on healthcare. I just pointed out an article on life in the Netherlands, from a US ex-pat’s perspective. That article included this observation:

Nobody thinks the Dutch health care system is perfect. Many people complain that the new insurance costs more than the old. “That’s true, but that’s because the old system just didn’t charge enough, so society ended up paying for it in other ways,” said Anais Rubingh, who works as a general practitioner in Amsterdam. The complaint I hear from some expat Americans is that while the Dutch system covers everyone, and does a good job with broken bones and ruptured appendixes, it falls behind American care when it comes to conditions that involve complicated procedures. Hoogervorst acknowledged this — to a point. “There is no doubt the U.S. has the best medical care in the world — for those who can pay the top prices,” he said. “I’m sure the top 5 percent of hospitals there are better than the top 5 percent here. But with that exception, I would say overall quality is the same in the two countries.”

Indeed, my nonscientific analysis — culled from my own experience and that of other expats whom I’ve badgered — translates into a clear endorsement. My friend Colin Campbell, an American writer, has been in the Netherlands for four years with his wife and their two children. “Over the course of four years, four human beings end up going to a lot of different doctors,” he said. “The amazing thing is that virtually every experience has been more pleasant than in the U.S. There you have the bureaucracy, the endless forms, the fear of malpractice suits. Here you just go in and see your doctor. It shows that it doesn’t have to be complicated. I wish every single U.S. congressman could come to Amsterdam and live here for a while and see what happens medically.”

What’s astonishing is the difference in per-capita costs for healthcare between the US and the Netherlands:

Healthcare expenditure per capita in 2007 in US$:

$3092 Netherlands
$6096 United States

I don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth. Let’s try the Dutch system and beat even their per-capita costs through economies of scale (the US being much larger than the Netherlands). Bigger systems can usually achieve lower per-unit costs than smaller systems, and the US, with all its technology, surely can do better than the Netherlands, an ancient nation. :)

Written by LeisureGuy

5 May 2009 at 9:16 am

One Response

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  1. Note also the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births:

    Netherlands: 4.9
    U.S.A.: 6.4

    and life expectancy:

    Netherlands: 79.4
    U.S.A.: 78.1

    Jack

    5 May 2009 at 12:08 pm


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