Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Miracles Among Other Nation's Health Systems

Prelude: To hear liberal activists talk, you would think universal coverage is the magic formula of controlling costs and delivering universal coverage. No such thing. In countries with aging populations and universal coverage, costs are out of control. In the United Kingdom, costs are rising faster than in the U.S. and one proposed solution, EMRs in every doctor’s office, has raised rather than lowering costs and hasn’t raised quality. In Massachusetts, citizens are having a hard time finding a primary care doctor, emergency rooms are more crowded than ever, and resident complain they can’t afford the premiums. Here’s a fast tour of other nation’s health systems, courtesy of the Wall Street Health Care Blog.

Health Reform: A Quick World Tour

By Shirley S. Wang

As the U.S. pushes to increase the number of Americans with health insurance, this morning’s WSJ looks at France, which offers universal coverage — and where the national health plan is running large deficits.

That’s led France to begin implementing some U.S.-style efforts to control costs, such as co-pays to reduce prescription-drug costs, notes the WSJ.

Here’s a quick look at what’s been happening in a few other countries around the world, as everybody tries to figure out how to provide health care without going broke:

Switzerland and the Netherlands both mandate that all adults must buy their own insurance or pay a penalty. That’s the same model that the state of Massachusetts has incorporated in its reform efforts as well.

Earlier this year, China decided to reform its health-care system. It plans to spend a lot of money building new hospitals and clinics, and will offer state subsidies for premium insurance with a goal of providing basic coverage to 90% of the country’s population within three years.

And in India, families earning less than a particular amount per year and meet other criteria get a “smart card” as part of the National Health Insurance Program, which people can take to the provider of their choice. The plan costs families the equivalent of just one day of a day laborer’s wages and is designed to encourage private insurers and hospitals to join in to market themselves and increase their patient base.

According to the August 7 WSJ, “France Fights Universal Care’s High Costs, “ it might be the last chance for the elderly to have a finance advance in France before government , called Assurance Maladie, lowers the boom through cuts, co-payments, rationing, and lowering doctor and hospital pay.

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