Sunday, May 07, 2006

British vs. American health care

A new study finds that Americans are much sicker than the English, but why is unclear. This despite the fact that America spends approximately 2.5 times more money per person on health care.

See:From the Krugman article: "Is being an American bad for your health? That's the apparent implication of a study just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. It's not news that something is very wrong with the state of America's health. International comparisons show that the United States has achieved a sort of inverse miracle: we spend much more per person on health care than any other nation, yet we have lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, Japan and most of Europe. But it isn't clear exactly what causes this stunningly poor performance."

The British smoke more than Americans. They drink more. Yet there is this remarkable statistic: "Americans are so much sicker that the richest third of Americans is in worse health than the poorest third of the English."

The key factor may be stress. Both Krugman and CNN point out this: "Full-time American workers work, on average, about 46 weeks per year; full-time British, French and German workers work only 41 weeks a year. I've pointed out in the past that our workaholic economy is actually more destructive of the "family values" we claim to honor than the European economies in which regulations and union power have led to shorter working hours. Maybe overwork, together with the stress of living in an economy with a minimal social safety net, damages our health as well as our families."

Something to think about.

I'd like to see whether the different levels of religiosity also play a role here. Nobelievers in the UK come close to forming a plurality, following the trend in other developed democratic countries, with the Jesus-loving U.S. as a notable anomaly. Maybe the widespread religiosity in this country contributes to our poor health.
I agree that stress plays a big part in the health of the people. The fact that you cannot depend on anyone but yourself to survive in this country does put a lot of pressure on its citizens. Having a safety net, whether it be in a circus or in an economy, greatly enhances the quality and quantity of life.
Yeah, Stress is probably a major factor. But what causes the stress may be another debate.
I travel frequently between the US (primarily New York & Boston) and London. I live in Brighton anout 40 miles south of London. I would say on average Americans do work harder that the Brits but not as much as the stats say but Americans get far more national holidays that the Brits, but the Brits get more vacations (average about 25days per year). So it's a bit confused to say that working hours are the cause of health disparity. The two big differences I observe are 1) Stress 2) Obesity
The US is a far more stressful work environment that the UK. It is far harder for a clever guy or girl to get on and stand out, also the work environment in the US is much more agressive and macho. 2) It is a fact that people in the US are far, far more obese that the UK (and the UK is pretty bad by European standards)
You really notice it if you have been out of the US for a while. You see levels of obesity and people of such a size that you never see in the UK period. Those 2 reasons are surely the largest causes of health disparity
Has anyone considered that America is the "fast food" capital of the world? I think our eating habit, not our religious, or work habits is the source of the difference in the actual health of Americans versus that of the Brits, Canadians,etc. As far as the stress factor is concern, Americans tend to hold the unbrella for the welfare of the the rest of the world and that has got to contribute to our overall stress levels.
Les W
wow I love your theme ... which will better the U.S. or Britain ... is very interesting and should put more about it
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Health care provider may refer to either an individual or an institution that provides preventive, curative, promotional or rehabilitative health care services in a systematic way to individuals, families or communities.
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