Friday, January 13, 2006

Salutary reading on healthcare

For anyone interested in understanding how healthcare works across European countries, and for an analysis of combinations of private and public funding for healthcare, Paul Belien at Brussels Journal has an interesting overview:
Europe has basically two types of healthcare financing systems: the single payer systems, in which healthcare is paid for and organised by the government with money from income taxes (as in Britain and Sweden), and the social insurance or sickness fund systems (as in Germany and France), in which healthcare is financed through mandatory premiums calculated as a percentage of wages. Whatever way European countries have organised their healthcare, they have all seen their costs rise over the past four decades. The European countries provide more equity in healthcare than the United States, but they do so increasingly by shifting the price tag for healthcare to the next generation, by rationing health to the elderly, and by suppressing useful innovations.
As a result, access of patients to costly healthcare services is being restricted everywhere. The only ones who escape this are the privately insured patients. Usually a citizen takes private insurance on top of statutory or official health insurance in order to cover certain medical treatments that are not – or no longer – provided by the official system. Consequently a two-tier healthcare system is developing with, on the one hand, those who can afford to pay twice for healthcare and, on the other hand, those who cannot and are trapped within the official system.
Do read the whole thing in which he analyses the particularly interesting cases of Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany.
And for those who grumble about how barbaric Americans leave the poor dying in the street because there is no public healthcare spending, reading this mind-blowing EU Rota post would no doubt be even more salutary!

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