Tales from the Trail

Health expenditure around the world

Health at a Glance 2009, a report by the OECD, shows that the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country.
Here are some figures on what leading economies spend on health care per capita, both in public and private schemes. The latest figures are from 2007 and are adjusted for purchasing power parity.
table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;} COUNTRY TOTAL PUBLIC PRIVATE HEALTH SPENDING
AS PCT OF GDP United States $7,290 $3,307 $3,982 16.00% Norway $4,763 $4,005 $758 8.90% Switzerland $4,417 $2,618 $1,799 10.80% Luxembourg * $4,162 $3,782 $380 7.30% Canada $3,895 $2,726 $1,169 10.10% Netherlands $3,837 $3,126 $711 9.80% Austria $3,763 $2,875 $888 10.10% France $3,601 $2,861 $739 11.00% Belgium $3,595 $2,701 $894 10.20% Germany $3,588 $2,758 $830 10.40% Denmark $3,512 $2,968 $545 9.80% Ireland $3,424 $2,762 $661 7.60% Sweden $3,323 $2,716 $607 9.10% Iceland $3,319 $2,739 $580 9.30% Australia (2006/7) $3,137 $2,124 $1,012 8.70% United Kingdom $2,992 $2,446 $547 8.40% OECD Average $2,984 $2,193 $791 8.90% Finland $2,840 $2,120 $720 8.20% Greece $2,727 $1,646 $1,081 9.60% Italy $2,686 $2,056 $630 8.70% Spain $2,671 $1,917 $753 8.50% Japan (2006) $2,581 $2,097 $484 8.10% New Zealand $2,510 $2,010 $500 9.20% Portugal (2006) $2,150 $1,538 $612 9.90% Korea $1,688 $927 $761 6.80% Czech Republic $1,626 $1,385 $241 6.80% Slovak Republic $1,555 $1,040 $516 7.70% Hungary $1,388 $980 $408 7.40% Poland $1,035 $733 $302 6.40% Mexico $823 $372 $451 5.90% Turkey (2005) $618 $441 $177 5.70%

* Health expenditure is for the insured population rather than resident population.
Sources: Reuters/OECD Health Data 2009.

Healthcare reform may leave some legal migrants to U.S. in limbo

Immigration, particularly what to do with millions of illegal immigrants living in the shadows, has long been a divisive issue in the United States — so it comes as little surprise that undocumented migrants are excluded from benefits under President Barack Obama’s signature drive to overhaul healthcare.
But legislation to reform the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system to cut costs, extend coverage and regulate insurers could also exclude more than a million legal permanent residents living, working and paying taxes in this country of immigrants from core benefits, according to a study published this month.
The report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute said 4.2 million lawful permanent residents in the United States are uninsured. More than 1 million of them could be excluded from Medicaid coverage or insurance subsidies outlined in the bill — five versions of which are currently on Capitol Hill — if Congress does not remove a five-year waiting period for eligibility.
Congress is set to debate the legislation in coming weeks, and the prospects for the overhaul are far from certain. But if legal residents are denied eligibility for Medicaid and insurance subidies, yet are nevertheless subjected to mandates requiring them to buy health insurance coverage, the study concluded, many of them would face a “significant burden.”
“Leaving large numbers of legal immigrants out of healthcare reform would defeat the core goal of the legislation, which is to extend coverage to the nation’s 46 million uninsured,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, who co-authored the report.
The study also concluded that implementing verification systems to ensure that 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States do not receive benefits could prove expensive and may also discriminate against Americans.
“Document checks would be especially costly, and would have the biggest impact on U.S. citizens who cannot produce birth certificates or other forms of ID, leading to lost or delayed coverage,” said Marc Rosenblum, a co-author of the MPI study.
The measures denying undocumented immigrants benefits are likely to be welcomed by most Americans — one telephone survey in June found 80 percent of U.S. voters opposed providing government healthcare coverage to undocumented migrants. But activists say a bill that left many legal permanent residents in limbo would likely discourage some skilled migrants from seeking to move to the United States.
Aman Kapoor, the founder and president of advocacy group Immigration Voice said many high-skilled immigrants including engineers and software specialists were already wary about moving to the United States because of red tape and delays in processing applications for permanent residency.
“This will ring the alarm bells again around the world for the high-skilled community,” Kapoor said, adding that skilled foreign workers were “already considering other destinations like India, China and Brazil because the hassle of settling here has increased dramatically.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Senator Max Baucus and Senator Olympia Snowe shake hands after Senate Finance Committee passed healthcare reform bill, October 13, 2009)

from Maggie Fox:

Swine flu update

WHO has given up on trying to keep any kind of precise count on swine flu, which is just about everywhere now. It's fairly mild but hardly anyone has any immunity, so it will infect far more people than seasonal flu does in an average year. That may mean more serious cases and more deaths than usual, just by virtue of sheer numbers.

It is affecting lots of kids but there are some clear guidelines for health care workers to protect themselves and their families.

Lots of companies are working on vaccines, which likely will not be ready for most countries  until the middle of October.  In the meantime, most patients do not need any treatment at all. People with diabetes, asthma, pregnant women and children who seem to have trouble breathing need prompt treatment, however, and the good news is the antiviral drugs still work well.

A Jonas Brother for President?

nick-j-picNick Jonas, the youngest of the world famous Jonas Brothers singing trio, told a National Press Club audience on Monday he’s “always had this dream of becoming president one day.”

The 16-year-old singer, songwriter and actor was in Washington to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2005. Earlier this year, he met President Obama as part of his diabetes work.

In an interview with Reuters, Jonas said his own presidential aspirations were not entirely a joke.

On veterans education bill, Dole backs Obama over McCain

WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Sen Bob Dole is a leading advocate for war veterans and a longtime Republican ally of presidential candidate John McCain, but on Friday he sided with Democrat Barack Obama to endorse a bill the Arizona senator opposes to raise benefits for former soldiers.

The legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday is at the heart of a fierce spat rtr1nj7z.jpgbetween McCain and his Obama, the Illinois senator closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama questioned McCain’s commitment to veterans, while the Republican candidate blasted the Obama’s lack of military service.

“I’m for the concept … I probably would have voted for it, if we get the money,” Dole told the National Press Club in an appearance spiced liberally with his trademark political wit. He acknowledged, “I haven’t read it, which is not a requirement in Congress.”

If you have a job, Clinton may not be for you

supporter.jpgLORETTO,  KENTUCKY  -   Sen.  Hillary Clinton, campaigning in rural Kentucky, on Saturday blasted critics telling her to drop out of the presidential race as America’s advantaged and well-heeled trying to tell the rest of the nation what to think and do.

“All those people on TV who are telling you and everybody else that this race is over and I should just be graceful and say, ‘Oh, it’s over,’” she said in Loretto, Kentucky. “Those are all people who have a job. Those are all people who have health care. Those are all people who can afford to send their kids to college. Those are all people who can pay whatever is charged at the gas pump.

“They’re not the people I’m running to be a champion for,” she said after touring a bourbon distillery. “I’m running to be a champion for all of you and your children and your grandchildren.”