The rest of the world is learning from America’s healthcare mistakes
Universal healthcare is having a moment. In The New York Times last Thursday, The Rockefeller Foundation placed a full-page ad declaring its support for 267 economists from 44 countries who have argued that universal health coverage policies are morally urgent and economically efficient. Among the most famous signatories of the declaration was former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who in an op-ed in the Financial Times wrote that providing universal health coverage could exceed the costs of doing so by a factor of 10.
Relatively poor countries are making huge strides in delivering basic healthcare to their citizens. Countries like Indonesia (with a GDP of roughly $3,500 per capita, vs. the United States’ $53,000) have launched ambitious plans to achieve universal coverage; in Indonesia’s case, by 2019. And middle-income countries, like Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Costa Rica, have achieved universal health coverage for its citizens.
The U.S., meanwhile, looks like a laggard by comparison. Despite the successes that Obamacare has had in reducing the number of Americans who lack coverage, 10.4% of the U.S. population, or 33 million people, remain uninsured. Though increases in healthcare costs have slowed in recent years, the government projects that the United States will spend nearly 20% of GDP on healthcare by 2024.