More spent, less in return

Americans have worse health outcomes than other countries that spend far less money

The author, a CSUC alum and former small-business owner, spent 30 years as an executive in the U.S. travel industry.

Republicans in Congress keep trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, claiming it to be inefficient and too costly, and that the United States already has the best health care in the world. While we may have excellent health care facilities and medical personnel, the problem lies in our inability to efficiently deliver it to the American people.

According to the Bloomberg index, which assesses life expectancy, health care spending per-capita and relative spending as a share of gross domestic product, in 2014, U.S. expenditures on health care averaged $9,403 per person, about 17.1 percent of the gross domestic product, with life expectancy at 78.9 years. Conversely, Hong Kong, whose government plays a stronger role in regulating and providing health care, had an average per person cost of $2,021, which is 5.4 percent of its GDP, and has a life expectancy of 83.98 years.

More startling was Hong Kong’s efficiency score, which is weighted on three basic metrics: life expectancy, relative costs (that is, total health costs as measured against GDP), and absolute cost, which is the simple per-dollar figure of total health expenditures. Hong Kong measured at 88.9, while the United States measured at 32.6. That put the United States at 50th out of 55 countries rated.

Now Republicans and President Trump want to devise a new tax plan. A myth they champion is that our taxes are too high. Research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, published this past July, highlighted the tax burdens of 35 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as of 2014. With a tax burden of 25 percent—a measurement that includes income, property and various other taxes—the U.S. is near the very bottom, well below the overall average of 34 percent. It ranks below all the measured countries except Korea, Chile and Mexico.

Our taxes are not too high. Instead, Congress squanders the revenue and favors tax breaks for the wealthy. They should instead focus on how to efficiently use our taxes to deliver programs that benefit the American people, such as universal health care.