How bad is US healthcare? A staggering study by National Geographic

“More money does not necessarilly mean better care,” says Gerard Anderson, a professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Anderson studies health insurance rates, services and other factors in countries all over the world.

We spend more on medical care per person in the United States than any other country. But that probably isn’t news to you. Here’s the bombshell: our life expectancy is shorter here than in most other developed (and many developing) nations. Why? Well one reason may be the way our health insurance is structured. We have a “fee-for-service” system. That means our insurance isn’t really insurance in the way that we carry insurance for our cars or homes. Our health insurance helps pay for regular appointments, immunization shots and other routine procedures.

The January issue of National Geographic features the graphic we’re showing below. It summarizes four main components of the problem: cost per person, universal access vs no universal access, life expectancy and ease of access. For example, seeing a doctor in Japan where it costs only $2,781 per person (versus $7,290 in the United States) is much easier than it is here — and helps people live over a decade longer.


  1. January 7, 2010

    Great find. I’ll be sure to share this with the people I know.

  2. Janet Pfeifer
    March 30, 2010

    While there is truth to the numbers, we need to present the whole picture. Could our poor diet and fitness-general care of ourselves-be as much of a culprit to our lower life expentancy as the insurance industry? Let’s include more than one variable to really analyze this.