Monday, November 12, 2007

Do We Really Need Government Healthcare? 

According to various mantras today, US citizens would be much better off if our current, state-of-the-art, available to all healthcare system were replaced with a government run, bureaucratic managed, single payer system. Arguments for centralized healthcare can be summarized in a statement that says Americans don't live as long as those in other industrialized countries.

As you can see by this chart, looking at the nations in the left hand column, the US lags behind a number of industrialized nations. However, when looking at life expectancy in the right hand column, the US has the longest life span.

Why is this? The right hand column corrects life expectancy data for differences in the rates of premature death from non-health-related injury, such as homicide and car accidents. These numbers came from reports analyzed by Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor. A very reasonable conclusion is that our healthcare system is actually very good. There is always room for improvement but including data that is behavior in origin to draw conclusions on a healthcare system is not wise. Addressing obesity would also impact life expectancy. As Professor Mankiw indicates on his blog, we don't know the impact of the American's overweight problem.