It really says something when the health care system of our country isn't just a danger to American workers, but to the entire global economy.
Americans spend $2.4 trillion a year on health care. The Business Roundtable report says Americans in 2006 spent $1,928 per capita on health care, at least two-and-a-half times more per person than any other advanced country.
In a different twist, the report took those costs and factored benefits into the equation.
It compares statistics on life expectancy, death rates and even cholesterol readings and blood pressures. The health measures are factored together with costs into a 100-point "value" scale. That hasn't been done before, the authors said.
The results are not encouraging.
The United States is 23 points behind five leading economic competitors: Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The five nations cover all their citizens, and though their systems differ, in each country the government plays a much larger role than in the U.S.
The cost-benefit disparity is even wider — 46 points — when the U.S. is compared with emerging competitors: China, Brazil and India.
Higher U.S. spending funnels away resources that could be invested elsewhere in the economy, but fails to deliver a healthier work force, the report said.
"Spending more would not be a problem if our health scores were proportionately higher," Dr. Arnold Milstein, one of the authors of the study, said in an interview. "But what this study shows is that the U.S. is not getting higher levels of health and quality of care."
Other countries spend less on health care and their workers are relatively healthier, the report said.
Medical costs have long been a problem for U.S. auto companies. General Motors spends more per car on health care than it does on steel. But as more American companies face global competition, the "value gap" is being felt by more CEOs — and their hard pressed workers.
The problem with the report is that it turns around and endorses a private health care system, with the government picking up the tab for the poor. In other words, roughly the same system that we have today, except with workers instead of companies paying the costs.