Is U.S. Health Care More Egalitarian than European Systems?

Yes. At least according to Tyler Cowen:

The “poorest” people are not those with low incomes but rather those with low human capital endowments.  That includes the elderly because, even if they are very talented, on average they will die sooner.

Through Medicare, the U.S. government subsidizes the health care of the elderly…… the subsidy is especially large for people in the last year of life or so, namely the very poorest.

Western European welfare states may be more efficient, because they do more to expand routine health care access for the relatively young and this may have a higher rate of return.  But those same systems are in critical regards less egalitarian.  Bravo to them.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ken says:

    Good points. I predict that the elderly will be the biggest losers from Obama’s health reform.

  2. Linda Gorman says:

    Evidence showing that the European systems do more to expand routine healthcare access for the young in practice, and in ways that result in healthier children, would be greatly appreciated.

    If one considers infant mortality rates an indicator of the care given to the young, then the data do indicate that the US provides better access to health care for newborns than the European systems.

    The very limited data on recent maternal mortality in the UK suggests that the movement towards less skilled providers so prevalent in nationalized systems may possibly result in higher maternal death rates. If true, this means that nationalized health care may generate a much lower rate of return for those children who survive birth but are deprived of a mother due to poor access to skilled obstetric care.

  3. John Goodman says:

    Good point, Linda. But I think there is evidence that European systems spend less on the elderly.