5 myths about health care around the world

I’m not trying to be a healthcare reform clearing house, but a few articles I’ve found are much more useful than boycotting. They inform, or at least pretend to inform. Of course you can boycott and inform, but as best I can tell that’s not what these guys have been doing.

First up is this article, What’s wrong with Whole Foods, which presents a much clearer argument against Whole Foods, beyond just the behavior of the CE0 (It’s a crazy looking website, but the article is well written and somewhat referenced, minus the typos). Interestingly, the author of this article doesn’t recommend a boycott either.

But more important is this one, Five myths about health care around the world (Washington Post).

I’m not an expert and can’t verify these claims. But among other good stuff in here:

2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.

Generally, no. Germans can sign up for any of the nation’s 200 private health insurance plans — a broader choice than any American has. If a German doesn’t like her insurance company, she can switch to another, with no increase in premium. The Swiss, too, can choose any insurance plan in the country.

In France and Japan, you don’t get a choice of insurance provider; you have to use the one designated for your company or your industry. But patients can go to any doctor, any hospital, any traditional healer. There are no U.S.-style limits such as “in-network” lists of doctors or “pre-authorization” for surgery. You pick any doctor, you get treatment — and insurance has to pay.

Which in all is a nice set of informed counterarguments to claims made by Mackey. Which is what I’d have loved to see boycotters passing out, attached to a copy of the WSJ article.

This article also hits on some things I mentioned in HealthCare as an innovation problem, namely informing us about alternatives so we can better see what we have and don’t have in our current system compared with what’s possible.

And lastly is this one from the NYT, which takes a look at the statistics for the uninsured in America: The Uninsured. It’s an editorial, but has references for most of the numbers they quote.

3 Responses to “5 myths about health care around the world”

  1. Wellescent Health

    So much of the health care “debate” has been based on so little information. One option or a do nothing approach are all that people have been offered. I am sure that those crafting the 1100 page bill did look at other systems, but by not mentioning that over and over in the messaging to the public, it could seem as if the plan is something crafted out of thin air as a power grab by those who inherently distrust government. Its always better to let people know the great ideas behind a plan to get them on board.

    1. Scott Berkun

      Wellescent: I agree. Much of what i wrote about in health care as an innovation problem is you can’t take big leaps in large bureaucracies with distributed authority, which is what the U.S. is. There are too many entrenched positions supported by power to support taking a large risk all at once. But since Presidential terms are short and the chain of support is massive and takes time to grow, it’s insanely hard to know where the right points of leverage are.

      1000+ page documents are not uncommon in the U.S. government. I’d love to know the history of document length for bill proposals (did it spike in the 1960s with the birth of the information age?)

  2. Kurt

    In Germany you have to pay around 13% of your income to health insurance, which is compulsory!

    In order to keep prices reasonable, it has to optional. Insurance companies don’t need to only compete with each other, they need to compete with each other for customers who would otherwise opt out of prohibitive health insurance costs.


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