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Another chart showing yet another inflection point in the mid-70s

This time, health care:

In this post I recast the visual display of international health care expenditures. For select OECD countries, this clearly shows the growth of average costs has been moderating while U.S. cost-growth has been accelerating. The graph methodology is discussed along with a caution about marginal thinking. A conjecture is presented as to why the OECD cost-growth is moderating followed by a couple thoughts for action. ...

I can’t say for certain why there’s a divergence but I do have a reasoned conjecture. Broken down by structural, conceptual and empirical elements, it is this: Structurally, OECD countries have better non-medical determinants of health, such as lower poverty rates and greater educational opportunity. This is in part because they started fresh after the devastation of WW II. (About 36.5 million Europeans were killed along with significant property destruction, e.g., 40% of German homes were destroyed. This was then followed by the European Economic Miracle.) Conceptually, the OECD is more systems oriented. For instance, they emphasize a Health System—not a Health Care System but a Health System. The only times I’ve heard Health System mentioned integral to the U.S. was as a joke. The OECD has made a concerted sustained effort at cost containment. But it’s not just that. For example, in some of their writings they aspire towards stewardship. If nothing else, they think more long-term while we are almost synonymous with short-termism. Empirically, their chronic disease prevalence is significantly less than ours, treatment for chronic diseases account for more than 75% of U.S. health care costs, and chronic disease is largely preventable.

Sure we think of health care as a system. We just think the system should be a market. There's your problem. And show me the market that rewards stewardship, long-term thinking, or prevention. And add to that an unholy self-licking ice cream cone that make chronic disease profitable for Big Food, which creates the disease, and Big Pharma, that "treats" the disease. And then there's the FIRE sector....

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