By Alan Bean
A quick glance at this graph and you would think you were looking at a comparison of murder rates, incarceration rates, or the use of the death penalty. America, in so many instances, is an outlier; we have our own unique ways of doing things. We lock up far, far more of our citizens than other nations.
Although our crime rates generally aren’t that high, we kill each other at an astonishing rate.
Then we execute many of our murderers (especially in Texas and the South) while most other western democracies do not.
Unlike other nations of similar affluence, we make it progressively easier to buy a gun and progressively more difficult to vote.
And then there’s healthcare.
Americans believe that a comparatively privatized health care system offers more effective, efficient and inexpensive medical services. It only seems natural. After all, we know that government services are always less efficient and cost-effective than services produced by the private sector. Right?
In some cases, this is likely true. Competition can produce low cost, high quality goods and services. Governments, for instance, don’t make good cars.
But when it comes to healthcare, American insistence on privatizing services whenever possible comes with an extremely high price tag. The following charts (you can find plenty more at the CSM site) demonstrate just how different the US system is, and how much we are paying for that difference.
Although premiums under the Affordable Care Act are reasonable by American standards, we are still paying far more for medical insurance than nations with single-payer systems. The phrase “socialized medicine” is misleading. Parts of the medical system in Canada, for instance, involve the private sector and America covers millions with Medicare, Medicaid and the military medical system. Still, it appears that involving the government more, in this one instance at least, does wonders for the bottom line.