Wednesday, July 1, 2009

America vs. Western world: Healthcare template, Global perspective and "The Cost Conundrum"

During the past decade-and-half, I have lived and worked in several western nations including UK, Canada, Switzerland and of course the US, where I took on Permanent Residency. In the countries I have lived in, I have been fortunate to either be eligible for the state sponsored health insurance (since I was paying taxes) or insurance supplemented by my employer.

Every western society has its share of healthcare challenges: including British loathing NHS (Guardian, BBC) and Canadians complaining about inordinate delays in getting access to rationed healthcare and similar cribs elsewhere. But would any other western country trade their system for American l lazzi-faire healthcare, which also happens to be the most expensive in the world? On the contrary, Americans and U.S lawmakers are debating a large re-haul of the current insurance-provider-healthcare system to include cover '47 Million Uninsured Americans'

Numbers floating around for the American healthcare reform are mind boggling (President Confirms $1 Trillion for Health-Care Reform)

While the lawmakers debate insurance and coverage, another viewpoint that is emerging is the burgeoning cost of American healthcare that has been spiraling out of hand. Among the widely quoted articles for this argument is the essay by Atul Gawande published in New Yorker (The Cost Conundrum). The article has been analyzed and quoted by the media during the past month, and even President Obama and staff are supposedly made it a must-read. The article is compelling since it brings in an analytical perspective to highly subjective and sometimes emotional debates.

American healthcare debate is an extremely complex affair. Most of us are easily swayed by arguments made by healthcare-professionals and other “experts” and before we form an opinion either the law is going to be debated and passed or come crashing down. While lawmakers debate the merits of insurance, payments etc, it may be a good idea to review what western countries in the rest of the world are doing (after all Americans are no healthier than their cousins in Canada, Europe and elsewhere; are they?). A sampling of interesting links:

Bloggers on Atul Gawande's writeup