The OECD Compares Health Care Systems

In response to his Twitter comments related to my post “Miles Kimball and Noah Smith on Balancing the Budget in the Long Run”–which inevitably focused on health care, since that will be the biggest ticket item in the government budget in the future–I begged Jonathan Portes to point me to something relatively brief that I could read to educate myself about the variety of different health care systems in Europe and other advanced countries. He sent me a link to this user-friendly article by the OECD:

Health Care Systems: Getting More Value of Money.

Pay particular attention to the diagram at the bottom of page 7, which lays out the basic varieties of health care systems. Also, though I have heard this fact before, the way in which the U.S. falls below the norm in ability to (on average) transform health care spending into life expectancy in the graph on page 4 is striking.

The question I would like to pose is this:

To what extent is the bad performance of the U.S. in life expectancy really a failure of Medicaid–the government medical program for the poor? If we did Medicaid right, while keeping the rest of the system the same as it was before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), could we dramatically reduce mortality while at most modestly increasing Medicaid expenditures?

Note: The OECD or “Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development" is highly respected among economists. It is more or less an organization of the richer countries in the world. 

Update: After I announced this post by tweet, I was tweeted this link to a Commonwealth Fund brief:

Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality.