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Thursday, August 31st 2006

An Effect Becomes A Cause

I’ve beaten this into the ground. We’re not paying for less necessarily in this country.

It just stirs me up, like a hornet in a cookie jar (yeah, I don’t know what that means either) when people spout in the same sentence that America spends more (and more per capita) on healthcare than any country in the world but our health is actually poorer! As if that is an approximation of the quality of healthcare in this country.

The situation wasn’t helped when those same people failed to read the conclusions of this study summarized in The Guardian.

Now I admit, I think the U.S. may be one of the most wasteful countries in the world in terms of healthcare spending. But, and I play the same old tune here, which one is the cause and which the effect in the relationship above?

But answers to why Americans are significantly less healthy than the British may lie in a different cultural divide. Many experts agree with Sir Michael that social differences, rather than healthcare systems, are responsible. They point particularly to the intense competition, economic insecurity and high levels of stress that run through American society.

Or from the Primary Investigator himself in The Guardian,

Professor Banks speculated that experiences earlier in life might be responsible. Perhaps childhood obesity left a health imprint that shows up later in life. “The obesity epidemic began later here, we are now catching up,” he said. “If that is the explanation then this health gap may potentially be closing in the future.”

Can This Help Explain The Atlantic Health Disparities?

What we’re witnessing is that lifestyle choices, behavior lead to poorer health and poorer health leads to more spending. These are chronic conditions though. CV disease isn’t going away in a patient, diabetes isn’t going away.

Does this explain all, or even a good chunk, of the increased spending in the US? Of course not. But before patients go crying foul over their bills or pundits start citing the US healthcare system for failing, have you kids put down the Big Mac. Health and healthcare costs start with personal responsibility.

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