Healthcare scatterchart of the day

By Felix Salmon
January 11, 2010
put together this chart from OECD data:

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Frank Hansen has put together this chart from OECD data:


(Via Gelman, who earlier found something similar putting life expectancy on the y-axis.)


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It is one thing to put life expectancy on the y-axis but, yet another thing to put health care system quality on the y-axis. I think that no matter how good a system is that it is hard to overcome poor life style choices. This would be a better chart if obesity were taken into account.

Posted by Ninja | Report as abusive

the chart is based on life expectancy and cost. while one would think higher cost should lead to longer life spans. But it doesn’t in the US. and you would expect higher cost to reflect better quality, which would be demonstrated by longer life spans. but it doesn’t seem to work that in the US. and how would we address life style choices? other than putting higher taxes on foods that cause obesity? the problem is that cheap food tends to be more of a problem for obesity, but the general population can’t afford the higher quality food, so raising the price on food wouldn’t really help as starvation isn’t a better solution for life expectancy is it?

Posted by willid3 | Report as abusive

how ’bout slapping butter, sugar, red meat and hot wing consumption on the chart.

or is that all too painfully obvious?

Posted by bryanX | Report as abusive

You guys are are really reaching.

Have you been to Germany? Colombia? Tried to buy healthy food in either country?

The “lifestyle choices” BS is just the Glibertarian way of denying that 1) unregulated, overcharging insurance companies add an unnecessary 20% to health care costs and 2) paying doctors 2X the rest of the world and Pharma 3X ROW is simply stupid. The two together account for at least 75% of the differential.

Posted by Dollared | Report as abusive

yes we do overpay.

Maybe we should try health care reform.

Has anyone tried that here yet?

Posted by bryanX | Report as abusive

It looks like the more ethnically homogeneous countries either tend to do better, or tend to do as well with less.

Social cohesion a positive factor here, perhaps.

Posted by Mega | Report as abusive

Right about Japan.

My father-in-law, a Japanese national living outside of Japan, had stomach cancer. For those who aren’t aware, that’s one of the very deadly ones. After considering various places for treatment including the United States, we settled on treatment in Japan because the no place, including the United States, comes within a mile of Japan for 5 year survival for gastric cancer. He is doing great these days, and his wallet is none the worse for the wear either.

Interesting blog posting… 009/08/25/health-care-abroad-japan/

Posted by DanHess | Report as abusive

The y-axis on this graph is labelled “Quality” it’s actually “Resources.”

The link explains it takes into account factors like the rate of new doctors graduating, etc…

Resources are fine and all, but what should be plotted is health-care outcomes. There is lots of research and reports that look at international healthcare as measured by outcome.

If the Y axis where measured outcomes, the the list of countries rated as below or equal (on the y axis) to the US would change dramatically – for example, Canada and the UK both achieve superior outcomes (better care) than the US, at less cost. According to the “resource” measure, though, they appear inferior.

So, at best, this chart is just yet another way to illustrate that the US pays too much for healthcare. It’s not, however, a good way to determine what countries are doing things right.

Posted by SteveSteveSteve | Report as abusive