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Near-universal Mexican Healthcare Coverage Results From Science-informed Changes

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the dismemberment-by-u.s.-backed-drug-cartels-not-covered dept.

Government 732

ananyo writes about improvement to Mexico's healthcare system. From the article: "A revamp of Mexico's beleaguered health-care system is proving to be a runaway success and offers a model for other nations seeking to reform their own systems, according to a review published this week in The Lancet (abstract). The key to the scheme's success is the way in which it has modified its reforms in response to scientific assessments of their effectiveness, the authors say. Launched in a law in 2003, the Mexican scheme was designed to sort out widespread inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the country's health-care system. Some 50 million Mexicans — nearly half the country's population — who previously were not covered by health insurance are now enrolled, leading the scheme's architects to claim that the country has near-universal health-care coverage. As well as the increased coverage, the scheme has seen the number of conditions treated under Mexican public health insurance nearly quintuple. Admittedly, the former health minister Julio Frenk, now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper."

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Here I come. (4, Insightful)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#41065609)

So will I have to go to Mexico for my low price drugs now? Sorry Canada

Re:Here I come. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065619)

So will I have to go to Mexico for my low price drugs now? Sorry Canada

No. This mean that the United States are the new Mexico. Enjoy your third-world country while it last, each year there are less and less of them.

Re:Here I come. (4, Funny)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 2 years ago | (#41065641)

I don't know about you, but that's already where *I* go. Avoid that nasty border tariff. Plus, they aren't that funky blue color down there, like they are around Albuquerque.

Re:Here I come. (3, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41065673)

You get used to facebook having a "Like" button. Slashdot needs one, for people who don't currently have mod points to go "+1 Funny"

Re:Here I come. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066071)

No, thanks to a dedication to the free market, BRAVE MEXICAN Capitalists will BRING the Drugs to you.

Yes, they will brave this COMMUNIST Hellhole for the sake of profit. How noble of them!

Kevorkian Panels. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065625)

Admittedly, the former health minister Julio Frenk, now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper."

Will there be any death panels?

Re:Kevorkian Panels. (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41066065)

They prefer to call it Carousel.

Re:Kevorkian Panels. (2)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 2 years ago | (#41066077)

The Mexican drug cartel wipes out the poorer villages. Does that count?

Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065629)

...let's watch the mexican economy tank in 3...2...1...

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Insightful)

Mirvnillith (578191) | about 2 years ago | (#41065631)

What is this "it" you're referring to here? There are plenty of non-tanking countries with very good healthcare coverage.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1, Troll)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065655)

Name one. Real economists make money off it.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Informative)

Alicat1194 (970019) | about 2 years ago | (#41065671)

Done: Australia (to name one, there are plenty of others)

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065675)

Australia, I've been thinking about moving there anyway.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41065711)

lol.. isn't Australia a duel health care country consisting of private and public system like England? I'm pretty sure I was going to have to buy insurance when I was thinking of moving there.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065815)

In AU everybody is covered by public health care, if you earn more than $72K Aus (current ~$75k US) you pay an extra 1% tax.

This equates to about $700 a year which (I am sure not by coincidence) is about the starting point for a single non-smoker private health cover. If you do take out private cover and earn > $72k you don't pay the extra tax.

All up I feel its a fair system

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41065951)

That's about how it was described to me when I was about to be going there. Job fell apart and didn't go though. Most people I spoke with about it like it too.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (3, Informative)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065819)

lol.. isn't Australia a duel health care country consisting of private and public system like England? I'm pretty sure I was going to have to buy insurance when I was thinking of moving there.

Is the NHS in the UK inadequate these days? I don't live there but I'm quite sure I'd be happy with "just" the NHS if I lived there. Having other insurances to cover e.g. loss of income from illness is one thing. I wouldn't have to have private insurance to cover transplants or cancer treatment, nor would be in a better situation to get such treatment than my poorer neighbor, and thats the important bit.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | about 2 years ago | (#41065941)

In UK, NZ, and I presume Australia too, the reason people pay for private health insurance is to get a bed in a private room when/if they require hospitilization, and to get on a shorter waiting list for tests and treatments for non-life-threatening conditions. If you're prepared to slum it in a shared ward with other patients and wait a few months to get surgery on that low level knee pain that's been annoying you for years, then the NHS is perfectly adequate, and will kick into action quickly and efficiently when you really need it.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#41065961)

and to get on a shorter waiting list for tests and treatments for non-life-threatening conditions.

You don't even get that in Australia, unless we are talking fake breasts or something equally frivolous.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41066011)

The NHS probably isn't inadequate but you do hear horror stories about it from time to time. Medical tourism in former colony states seems to be a popular thing for people who have government insurance coverage that is supposed to cover everyone. The NHS has a rule or law that states they can avoid treating any illness if you attempt to get treatment outside their system and it isn't an emergency situation. So if there is rumor of some miracle treatment for your liver cancer or whatever and you fly to whatever country who is allowing it to be practiced and the treatment fails, you can be stuck flipping the bill yourself for the rest of your liver cancer treatment life.

I think there are problems with most health care systems and they all have horror stories.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41065703)

Hong Kong. Universal coverage for nominal charge. (Hospitals about $12/day for any kind of treatment, waived if you really can't afford that.)

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065731)

Which means nothing on its own. How should we account for the quality of care, taxes paid by each person recieving care, etc?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Interesting)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065797)

We were only discussing whether a public universal healthcare system automatically tanks the economy. Whether this system provides better or worse care, or does it for ore tax money than would otherwise be spent in private insurance is a completely separate discussion.

(but as a clue, I have seen lots of studies saying that for example the US healthcare system provides about half as much "care per dollar" than most single payer systems. A lot of this is of course due to legal and bureaucratic overhead).

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065825)

A healthcare system coudln't tank an economy unless people were forced to pay into it. People wouldnt be forced to pay into it unless it had already gotten TBTF.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Insightful)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065897)

A healthcare system coudln't tank an economy unless people were forced to pay into it.

Single payer universal health care means healthcare is a figure in the budget, just like infrastructure, defense etc. If there is a budget deficit you have to cut down on something (infrastructure, defence, healthcare, whatever). People are "forced to pay into it" no more or less they are forced to pay into defense or infrastructure. Having too large expenses for healthcare is entirely possible, reasons can be for example if you have a shift in demographics where fewer young people pays for the healthcare of a large aging population (Japan has this problem whereas the US does not). This can cause economic issues, but the same can be true if you have an aging airforce.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (0)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065929)

If the government promised to people they better pay it. That will come out of someones paycheck.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Insightful)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065967)

If the government promised to people they better pay it. That will come out of someones paycheck.

Still the same as defense. Also comes out of someones paycheck. And what the government promises, they better deliver if they want to be reelected. You are still not making a point I feel.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065991)

defense.... you mean the war department?

Just forget it then.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065907)

no, healthcare tanks the economy when hospitals are forced to provide healthcare to the uninsured. if some freeloading hick with no healthcare gets hit by a bus the local hospital will be forced to treat him even though it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that he will obviously never pay. the only option is either force people to contribute to healthcare through taxes or let hospitals refuse treatments...forcing hospitals to treat people who are too irresponsible to get insurance is a moral hazard and raises the cost for everyone else.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1, Troll)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about 2 years ago | (#41066051)

This is correct, however I ask a follow up. Why are hospitals forced to provide healthcare services to people that cannot pay - this is one of the main drivers behind escalating costs of healthcare, but why is this the case?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066141)

Seriously? You're seriously asking that question?

In the civilised world, we view people who refuse to help the sick and injured as evil scum. In your country you may be happy with people dying, untreated, on the streets. YMMV.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Funny)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 2 years ago | (#41066155)

Because Reagan signed that law into being in the 80's.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41066121)

Mexican, and world health , would benefit immeasurably more from Mexico getting rid of its kleptocracy where government jobs are the place to be for kickback wealth.

Then their economy wouldn't be so bad and they could contribute better to worldwide invention rates, whch are what saves the most lives in the long run.

Government-provided health care relies on the idea of handing out what already exists. As such it is a static analysis that is pennywise, pound foolish in ignoring the real lifesaving force: new treatments.

It is the exact same power as continuously-compounded interest. Socialized medicine is giving a man a few thousand dollars.

Freeing business from predation is the millions you have in thebank by socking a little away every week. I'd rather have 2055-level medical tech in 2050 thanks to industrious, free Mexico, than 2050-level tech and not free, kleptocracy-wise, Mexico.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41065919)

Which means nothing on its own. How should we account for the quality of care, taxes paid by each person recieving care, etc? The question was "name one". That's what I did. You can look up the economic detail as easily as I can.

Anecdote: I know an American in Hong Kong getting treatment for cancer, treatment he would be denied back in his home country despite paying taxes for the last 40 years since he lost his job there and thus his insurance. His chance of survival is still low, in America it's zero.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#41066095)

Which means nothing on its own. How should we account for the quality of care, taxes paid by each person recieving care, etc?

That's a different argument/question from the one you originally posted. As Voltaire used to say, define your terms in the discussion. Other countries whose economies are not tanking due to their health care systems: Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, Rwanda, Chile to name a few.

These countries are either doing well as developed nations or on the verge of becoming ones. As for Japan's economic woes, they have everything to do with an aging population, lack of women's participation in the workforce, and little economic expansion due to the 90's economic crisis. But even with all that, the average Japanese's purchasing power and lifestyle have not deteriorated (compare that to us.)

So if you are going to argue that any significant woes (or even tanking) on any of these countries are predominantly a function of their health care systems, you better come up with some citations. Hand waving does not count.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41066075)

But they dont have any doctors there. they all left because of the low wages.

What, you mean the Tea Party people are lying about that?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065705)

Name one. Real economists make money off it.

Name one what? One country with universal healthcare, that has had a decent economy for at least the last few decades?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065715)

What metrics do you use to assess a country's economy?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065767)

What metrics do you use to assess a country's economy?

Which ever you like. I'd probably go for standard of living, life expectancy, poverty level, unemployment, number of people in higher education, literacy etc., as well as national parameters like deficit, debt.

I'd guess there is actually a strong correlation between public universal healthcare and healthy economies. But not because public universal healthcare gives a better or worse economy, but because public universal healthcare as a good economy as a prerequisite.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (0)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065799)

So..based on the metrics you provided, if the ponzi scheme collapses you will admit that the free healthcare was basically paid for by subtle enslavement of the third world?

If you disagree, then we and our children really could sustain our lifestyle forever without ripping off poor people?

I am kind of trolling, but really?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (0)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065839)

I don't know what you are getting at here. The high standard of living in for example western europe and the US can of course be said to at least in part be due to the exploitation of third world countries.

You were arguing that public health care leads to a collapse of a countrys economy, and now you are arguing that when a countrys economy collapses for whatever reason, that country will no longer afford its public healthcare? That is not the same thing?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065891)

I don't know where I said that paying for public healthcare leads to a collapse. The current method of providing healthcare is basically stealing from future generations (which will eventually lead to collapse), if you think about how it works (at least in the US) it is a big ponzi scheme. Every generation needs to convince the ones after them to buy in to the insurance/Social Security scam. Please explain how else it could work.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Informative)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065935)

I don't know where I said that paying for public healthcare leads to a collapse.

I was thinking of this: "Like everywhere else it's been tried...let's watch the mexican economy tank in 3...2...1..."

The current method of providing healthcare is basically stealing from future generations (which will eventually lead to collapse), if you think about how it works (at least in the US) it is a big ponzi scheme. Every generation needs to convince the ones after them to buy in to the insurance/Social Security scam. Please explain how else it could work.

I don't know what you mean by "stealing from future generations". If you have a budget neutral (i.e. not deficit spending) based, tax financed, public healthcare system, how will that be problematic? Look at Sweden for example. There is a single payer universal healthcare system paid for by taxes, at the same time there is a budget surplus and the national debt has been quite rapidly reduced in the last decade. Are the current generation of swedes "stealing" from the next generation of swedes?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (0)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41066017)

Look up monetary policy. It has more influence on your life that 95% of what your government votes on.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (4, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#41065995)

When I select HEALTH index (only) the United States ranks #38. The United States is trailing the industrial powerhouses of Cuba and Costa Rica.

Build your own index using UN data:
http://hdr.undp.org/en/data/build/ [undp.org]

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

DarkTempes (822722) | about 2 years ago | (#41066083)

Just look at this pretty list of countries by health expenditure [wikipedia.org] and note the percentage of GDP health care cost for countries that use universal health care.

For further shaming of the US system (and to the benefit of other systems) you can compare with the WHO ranking of health systems [wikipedia.org] though that might be a less objective metric.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (5, Informative)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about 2 years ago | (#41065719)

Australia (where I am)
Canada
The United Kingdom
Most of Europe, for that matter
South Africa
New Zealand
Singapore
Japan

And that's just off the top of my head, with a bit of googling to back it up. You know, basically every single first world country except the United States, who recently were in a massive recession and are looking to head that way again.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065739)

Yes they say the words that make you happy... do they actually deliver?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#41065851)

Yes they say the words that make you happy... do they actually deliver?

Weak sauce dude, weak sauce.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (5, Interesting)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065853)

Yes they say the words that make you happy... do they actually deliver?

Still trolling? Let me repeat his statements for you, in a new wording

- All of the "first world" economies, except the US, pretty much have universal socialized health care.

- The systems are popular in these countries (they are all democracies, so they would have to be quite popular to remain).

- All of these economies are of course facing more or less rough times at the moment, but their economies would still be regarded as "healthy" on a global scale or seen over a few decades.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1, Troll)

repapetilto (1219852) | about 2 years ago | (#41065975)

Regarded as healthy by who?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066031)

By looking at basic economic figures, such as Gross National Product, National debt, poverty percentages, unemployment rates, education levels etc. And yes, get over it: almost all of the countries in question are doing much better in those areas than the USA.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

drsmithy (35869) | about 2 years ago | (#41066103)

Regarded as healthy by who?

Since you're the one making the argument publicly funded healthcare and a healthy economy are impossible, why don't you define "healthy" for us.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (-1, Flamebait)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41066149)

Here's a statement I read that will get me downmodded because it burns your ears because it's true: You can't give out things for free until other, better nations invent them for you.

This is an idiotic, hunter-gatherer attitude that sees treatments that already exist and takes them from the farmers who produce them.

If you actually cared, you would at least craft universal care laws (and general laws) that didn't kick the producers in the balls on a daily basis.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Mushdot (943219) | about 2 years ago | (#41066057)

Yep, they do liver, kidneys and all other major organs :-)

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066127)

In South Africa, if you earn anything above a minimum wage or have assets, you pay almost private rate for state healthcare. Of course outside of several specialised units in top academic hospitals which are incredibly difficult to get into, few who can afford medical insurance would go that route. State healthcare is free for those who earn below a minimum level except that it is deficient and overloaded by patients. Some Academic specialists also have their private rooms in private hospitals adjoining the academic state hospital. The fees there are also private rate.

For example I pay as much as 35% of my income in income tax, 14% VAT, customs duties on any thing you receive in a parcel (including gifts) over $45* per year, $50 per month in security fees because the cops can't protect me, fuel surcharge, car registration, TV license fees even if I don't watch state television, $200 per month in property tax and $250 in medical insurance which does not even fully cover outpatient procedures but offers unlimited in hospital cover. I don't use the State health care system at all and I access private health care. If I were to use a State hospital and lose my job and insurance, I would have to sell my house to repay the bills. Only once I was below a certain level would health care be "free".

(* In South Africa, if one buys more than 3 items per year from abroad for personal use (Amazon, Ebay, etc) , one has to register with the Revenue Service as an "Importer". The procedure is tedious and requires a ton of documentation. )

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (5, Informative)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41065757)

The Nordic states are doing pretty well, and they all have universal socialised healthcare. The Netherlands claims it has privatised healthcare, and the best service in the world, but in fact 75%+ of the cost is transparently covered by the taxpayer, and poor people do get free healthcare.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2)

madsdyd (228464) | about 2 years ago | (#41065869)

Danmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway at least are non-tanking. Plenty more in the rest of Europe, I would reckon.

The US is unique in beeing a "western world" country without universal healthcare, btw, and while we do have a financial crisis in Europe right now, I am not sure there are any relations to the health sector.

Singapore (5, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | about 2 years ago | (#41066015)

Singapore [wikipedia.org] is routinely ranked as having one of the best healthcare system in the world (WHO 2000 study Singapore ranked 6th, U.S. was ranked 37th). It's universal healthcare that people pay for out of their own pocket. [jparsons.net] The cost of providing world best medical care for everyone in Singapore, costs per person what Americans spend on administration alone - not doctors, drugs, surgeries or real health care - just what Americans spend on managers and secretaries. And yet, for this price, they get one of the best healthcare systems in the world in return. Amazing. Economists love it, here's some excerpts from The Undercover Economist - Lemons, health care, and the United States [google.com]

The United States relies upon private health insurance to provide much of the financing for medical costs. This is unusual: in Britain, Canada, and Spain, for example, health-care costs are largely paid for by the government. In Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, medical costs are paid for by a system of "social insurance": it is compulsory for most people to buy insurance, but insurance premiums are tied by law to income rather than to the risk of a claim.

The United States system makes it voluntary to buy insurance, and premiums are linked to risk, not to income. But these market-based premiums, beloved of many Americans, do not seem to be delivering health care that makes them happy. A recent survey revealed that only 17 percent of respondents in the United States were content with the health-care system and thought no substantial reforms were necessary. Why the discontent?

The superficial reasons are simple enough to describe: the system is hugely expensive, very bureaucratic, and extremely patchy. The expense first: US health cares costs a third more, per person, than that of the closest rival, super-rich Switzerland, and twice what many European countries spend. The United States government alone spends more per person than the combination of public and private expenditure in Britain, despite the fact that the British government provides free health care for all residents, while the American government spending program covers only the elderly (Medicare) and some of the marginalized (Medicaid). Most Americans worry about health-care costs and would be stunned to discovered that the British government spends less per person than the American government but still manages to provide free health care for everyone. In fact, if you figure in the costs of providing health insurance to government employees and providing tax breaks to encourage private health care, the US government spending on health care, per person, is the highest in the world.

Bureaucracy next. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that the administrative costs of the US system, public and private, exceed $1,000 per persons. In other words, when you count all the taxes, premiums, and out-of-pocket expenses, the typical American spends as much on doctor's receptionists and the like as citizens of Singapore and the Czech Republic spend on their entire medical care. Both places are countries with health outcomes very similar to those in the United States: life expectancy and “healthy life” expectancy (a statistic that distinguishes a long healthy life and a long life plagued by years of severe disability) are a shade lower in the Czech Republic than in the United States; and in Singapore they are a little higher than in the United States. The costs of US bureaucracy is also more than three times the $307 cost per person for the administration of the Canadian health system, which produces noticeably superior health outcomes.

Then there is the patchy coverage of the system. Health insurance is usually packaged together with a job, which reduces the efficiency of the labour market; workers are hesitant to quit their jobs without lining another job up first for fear of being uninsured. Worse, 15 percent of citizens have no insurance coverage of any kind – which should be a stunning statistic for the world's richest economy, but probably isn't because it has been lamented for so many years. Compare it to Germany, where 0.2 percent of the population has no coverage, or to Canada or Britain, where everyone is provided for by the government.

Given what we have learned from George Akerlof and his lemons, the troubles of the US health-care system should be no surprise. We should expect a voluntary private insurance system to be patchy. A few people who have more pressing costs than health insurance (for example, the young poor, who have little money and rightly expect that they are unlikely to become seriously ill) will drop out of the system. As a result, health insurance companies, needing to cover their costs, will raise the premiums for the average client, driving out more and more people. Unlike the very stark lemons model, the market does not completely collapse; this is partly because many people find that the risks of having to pay for medical treatment are so worrying that they're willing to pay substantially more than an actuarially fair premium. As a result, the process of unravelling stops, but not before many people have been excluded from the system.

Thanks to Spence and Stiglitz, we should also expect insurance companies to devise ways to get around this lemons problem, but that although the solutions may be effective they will probably also be wasteful. The huge bureaucratic burden of the US system is one of the results, as insurance companies struggle to monitor the risks, behaviour and expenses of their customers. The clunky linkage of health insurance with jobs is another result: at first sight, there is no reason why a job should come with health insurance, any more than it should come with a house or free food. Employees are frequently forced to buy the health insurance that is packaged with their job. This packaging compels the healthiest members of society to buy insurance packages and so come cheap: health-care plans are not chosen by their beneficiaries, who would aim to get the ideal coverage for the right price, but by human resource managers with other priorities, such as making their own lives easy with a “one-size-fits-all” bulk purchases. The result is likely to further wasteful spending.

Not every drawback of the US health-care system should be blamed on Akerlof's lemons problem. Even without the difficulty of inside information, the system of insurance is problematic, because patients are not always able to choose their treatment. With the insurance company picking up the bill, choosing the appropriate treatment is always going to be something of a matter of negotiation. When you ask somebody else to pay for your health care, don't be surprised if you don't get exactly what you would have chosen yourself

The following section Fixing health care with keyhole economics [google.com] describes how the Singapore system actually works. I don't have a text copy to paste here, but if you are actually interested in healthcare economics it makes interesting reading.

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066033)

Canada. None of our major banks failed (in large part because of mortgage regulations that prevented banks from doing insane things like selling no-interest, no-job, no-asset loans), our unemployment rate is currently lower than the US, and our dollar is currently worth more than $1 US and has been at about that level (close to parity) for quite a few years now.

Granted, a lot of that is more a commentary on just how much worse the US economy has been since 2008, but in an economic sense we're definitely better off at the moment. As for the healthcare system, it is of course not perfect. But I have no particular complaints when I've needed it for either emergency or regular medical attention.

The US is a great country, and it has a fine healthcare system, if you can afford it. And affording it is a problem for a lot of people, especially if it is something serious and chronic. I think half the problem with the US attitude towards taxpayer-funded healthcare is that you guys don't realize just how bad you've got it, or how much you're being ripped off for incomplete service. It's really good healthcare, but average costs are much higher for partial coverage.

Then there's the overall financial management. In Canada, there's a broad public understanding that regardless of what government is in power, balanced budgets are expected. While you guys talked for decades about balanced budgets and paying down debt, we were actually doing it, all through the 1990s. We were running a budget surplus in the 1990s like the US was. Every year when there was a surplus, some of the surplus funds were put to paying down debt, and some of it was put into reducing taxes. It wasn't all carved away as large tax cuts so that the government ran into the red again. It was a balanced, incremental approach. That's come in very handy as the 2008 financial crisis unfolded, and given a lot more room to maneuver. It's still going to be a few years until balanced budgets are back again, but if we do run a surplus, I'm sure the government of the day will follow a similar strategy: some debt payment, some tax cuts. It's a prudent way to do things. You guys got fleeced by a bunch of con men who told you "deficits don't matter" and whose stated goal was to remove regulations and starve the government of funds by giving a huge tax break, preferably to the very rich, because they are the major drivers of the economic system. An interesting economic experiment. How's that working out?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065693)

...let's watch the mexican economy tank in 3...2...1...

Whats been tried? Universal healthcare?

Re:Like everywhere else it's been tried... (2, Interesting)

coastwalker (307620) | about 2 years ago | (#41065805)

You display the ignorance that indicates that you are a drone repeating the mantra instilled in you by propaganda. There are plenty of countries doing very well with universal healthcare. The majority of them also offer private health care for the rich who think they can buy their way to better health with additional insurance.

Scientific assessment of effectiveness? (5, Insightful)

Zuriel (1760072) | about 2 years ago | (#41065647)

Translation: "We did some things we thought would work, and then later we stopped doing the things that weren't working and did more of the things that were."

In an ideal world, governments behaving sensibly wouldn't make headlines.

NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (4, Insightful)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 2 years ago | (#41065659)

. . . about a year and a half ago, and while it's not all bad [nytimes.com] , it's not quite as glowing as TFA.

“You have people signed up on paper, but there are no doctors, no medicine, no hospital beds,” said Miguel Pulido, the executive director of Fundar, a Mexican watchdog group that has studied the poor southern states of Guerrero and Chiapas.

The result is that how Mexicans are treated is very much a function of where they live. Lucila Rivera Díaz, 36, comes from one of the poorest regions in Guerrero. She said doctors there told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41065685)

Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

The problem of making health care cheaper so there isn't so much profit in it?

told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

Given the choice of travelling for a few hours to have (free) tests, or the American alternative of selling your house to pay for them, I wonder which is the worst?

Hey, you forgot to call; it "Obamacare". Don't worry, I'm sure that will be in half the posts anyway.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (-1, Flamebait)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41065779)

Please don't make things up because you got but hurt that someone yet again pointed to the shining examples thrust at us with the claim of being better and pointed to the deficiencies saying that is what i don't want.

No one in the US has had to sell their house to get medical tests or treatment unless they were purposely trying to manipulate their income and assets to sneak into a government program and have the state pay for their health care. There are people who lost their income from not being able to work who lost their houses (foreclosures), but nothing in the Obamacare (you happy?) or the mexican coverage will prevent that.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (0)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41065953)

Personal sneers I Fuck off with that .

The Mexican system is imperfect. It's still a lot better than the US system, which is a disgrace and serves the medical business sector ahead of the people.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065791)

The worry is adequate amount of people that can give care. Those doctor people that society tells you not to trust because their education means nothing.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41065793)

Getting your infrastructure up to date is way more of an expensive and time consuming problem than getting your systems up to date. It is a lot simpler, but its costlier. Sounds to me like they have the more difficult part of the equation solved, there are plenty of countries with great infrastructure and crap systems who face industrial action if they try to modernise, so all thats left for Mexico now is the slow grind to build out.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (2)

ananyo (2519492) | about 2 years ago | (#41065807)

Check out how much the Mexicans spend on healthcare at the moment, compare it to the US, compensate for numbers. Then despair American slashdotters.
Of-course there's still problems - but as the NYT piece says: "A decade ago, half of all Mexicans had no health insurance at all." ie in many cases, they were not able to afford treatment.
Critics sometimes seem to overlook that a public healthcare system does not mean that people who wish to get treatment privately cannot do so...

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41065917)

Of-course there's still problems - but as the NYT piece says: "A decade ago, half of all Mexicans had no health insurance at all." ie in many cases, they were not able to afford treatment.

Right, and now they can afford it, but there's no treatment to get, which is what is fast-approaching here in the states. Last time I had health insurance there was literally no one in my county on that insurer (first blue cross, then blue shield) accepting new patients. Why will this be any different?

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (1, Troll)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about 2 years ago | (#41066105)

Health insurance is meaningless if you cannot get healthcare, they are different things.

Is the US doctors are not just refusing new patients, they are retiring, leaving the practice, declining to enter the field.

When the state dictates the minimum level of care and the cost this does two things; This enslaves the provider by interfering with his ability to negotiate the terms of his product or service himself, and eventually this minimum level of care will be the only level of care available to anyone, save for the elites of course.

"Free government health insurance" sounds great doesn't it. But one cannot ignore reality, nothing is free and the government fails at nearly everything it does.

The Soviet Union had a constitution in 1936 provided it's citizens with an impressive sounding list of rights:

http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons04.html#chap10 [bucknell.edu]

This included the right to work, to leisure time, to healthcare, to retirement etc. etc. etc.

Didn't work out too well did it?

But no, all these socialist systems that have come before Obama were just not tried *properly* now were they? They didn't have a leader as *smart* as Obama to implement them, *this* time they will get it right I'm sure.

Yes that was sarcasm.

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (2)

jrumney (197329) | about 2 years ago | (#41065881)

The result is that how Mexicans are treated is very much a function of where they live. Lucila Rivera Díaz, 36, comes from one of the poorest regions in Guerrero. She said doctors there told her to take her mother, who they suspected had liver cancer, for tests in the neighboring state of Morelos.

Sounds like the problems the opponents to universal health care in the States are always worried about.

So these opponents of universal health care have an alternate system where people from the poorest areas get top class care without needing to travel to better equipped areas?

Re:NYT had an interesting write-up. . . (5, Informative)

funkylovemonkey (1866246) | about 2 years ago | (#41066053)

I suppose it's easy to believe this doesn't happen in the US if you've lived somewhere urban your whole life. But out here in rural America, it's not uncommon to have to travel two or three hours to get treatment. There's a local clinic in the town that I live in, but if you need anything more complicated than having a broken bone set or some penicillin, you're going to have to travel to the nearest town an hour and a half away. If you have something serious like cancer then it might be time to look into relocating. Rural areas always have a more difficult time getting to medical care, especially with a country as spread out as the United States. It has nothing to do with universal health care or our privatized system and wouldn't necessarily become better or worse if we changed.

Shocking (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065661)

You mean, using someone who actually understands the field he's working in instead of a politician with little or no qualifications, actually gives better results? OMFG this is revolutionary!

Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (4, Informative)

Balthisar (649688) | about 2 years ago | (#41065683)

Yes, the claim that Mexico has near universal coverage is accurate, but Mexico's health care is not a US or Canadian (-provincial) style. This Wikipedia article is pretty accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Mexico [wikipedia.org] about how it works.

Ex-President Fox's Seguro Popular is mostly what the article talks about, and that's what (properly) gives Mexico the right to say that it has nearly 100% coverage. And it's a good program -- my mother-in-law's maid's kid received a kidney transplant under the program.

It's important to distinguish, though, that you're not forced into this system. You can still buy private insurance, or pay cash. (Last time I had to go to a hospital in Mexico, they simply wanted my credit card).

tl;dr: the Mexican government hasn't taken away choice.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (5, Insightful)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065735)

Would people really feel "forced" if there was a tax financed single payer system financed by taxes? Does someone feel "forced" to pay for police and other services with taxes? Would anyone rather have a private company to call in case of fire, than pay tax money for that service? Am I making a weird extrapolation between police and healthcare?

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41065885)

Actually, you are making a weird extrapolation between police and healthcare. And yes, a lot of people think they are being forced to pay for police they do not call or schools they have no children in. And yes, some areas do call a private company for fire and emergency medical services.

The difference is that most people can agree that the police and fire are necessary but requiring a 22 year old in good health to spend money in case his health goes bad is not automagicly seen as a necessity. I have gone 15 years without seeing a doctor outside of a DOT physical and a couple of blood test required after a hazmat cleanup.

Here is the problem, when in good health, all people need is catastrophic insurance with a high deductible and a health savings account that can cover the deductible. Most of what they do that can be considered dangerous is already covered by workers comp when working or by car insurance when traveling somewhere and sometimes even by homeowners or renters insurance depending what policy you have and almost always when at another person's residence. That leaves a very narrow window where someone isn't already covered by some already existing entity if you are in good health. So most people do not see paying for the police in the same light as being forced to pay for something that is mostly redundant and probably not needed.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41065993)

I made that question inflammatory on purpose. But I think there is a big divide between the reasoning in the US, and in what I like to call "the rest of the modern world".

Having other (private) insurances such as car-, or home insurance cover medical expenses just means those are more expensive. If the US ever had a single payer tax financed system, of course employers would NOT pay for healthcare, and car insurance would NOT pay for healtcare in that system. What does your car insurance cost? How much of that premium is there to cover lawsuits and/or medical treatments for whoever is hit by your car? How much of that premium is there because there may be a legal procedure first?

What if the person you ran over just got the best treatment possible, straight away, no questions asked? What would that do to your car insurance premium?

Saying that "there is a narrow window left between other insurances" just points out that its scary as hell to have a system where healtcare is provided by a patchwork of different insurances where some may even be bound to your employment and so on (That would scare the hell out of me). The fact that a doctor would have to check with some insurance company before giving me a medical treatment to see if it is covered also scares the hell out of me.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41066175)

Having other (private) insurances such as car-, or home insurance cover medical expenses just means those are more expensive. If the US ever had a single payer tax financed system, of course employers would NOT pay for healthcare, and car insurance would NOT pay for healtcare in that system. What does your car insurance cost? How much of that premium is there to cover lawsuits and/or medical treatments for whoever is hit by your car? How much of that premium is there because there may be a legal procedure first?

They will not be any cheaper if they didn't cover the medical costs and you are required to have them if you drive a car or are buying a home. If i remember right, car insurance in Canada is still more expensive then in the US. So shifting the medical cost doesn't seem to lower the expense automatically. A good friend moved to the US from Canada and was surprised that her rates in the US were about $100 per month less for equal coverage.

What if the person you ran over just got the best treatment possible, straight away, no questions asked? What would that do to your car insurance premium?

I'm not really sure why you are so worried about it when i am the one who would have to pay the premium. However, the insurance will only pay for reasonable treatment costs and the law will only make me liable for that too. If the person decides to go to some $500 a hour private doctor, they would be paying the difference themselves. And that point is insignificant with universal coverage because the option to get luxury health care wouldn't exist either.

Saying that "there is a narrow window left between other insurances" just points out that its scary as hell to have a system where healtcare is provided by a patchwork of different insurances where some may even be bound to your employment and so on (That would scare the hell out of me).

then pay for health insurance. You must be confused about something here, I said a lot of healthy people use that to not spend money on health insurance, not that anyone had to do that. Hell, for a healthy person, a catastrophic policy is more then enough.

The fact that a doctor would have to check with some insurance company before giving me a medical treatment to see if it is covered also scares the hell out of me.

Do you know what the difference is in a universal coverage state is? The government had already dictated what could be done and the more risky procedures that might have a better outcome would not be considered at all. You see, there are medical standards already in place pertaining to the treatment of about anything. Existing government care like medicare/medicaid will only pay for that type of care. When the doc calls the insurance company to get approval for something, it is something that will likely be beneficial to the patient but not already a standard treatment. You can be scared all you want, but it would be because of your own ignorance not anything in practice. Your government healthcare wouldn't even provide the opportunity for that kind of treatment in the first place.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41065893)

Does someone feel "forced" to pay for police and other services with taxes?

Yes, many libertarians.

Would anyone rather have a private company to call in case of fire, than pay tax money for that service?

Yes, many libertarians.

Am I making a weird extrapolation between police and healthcare?

Yes, many people don't see the connection between public safety and public health. And most of them are libertarians.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (3, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#41065835)

It's the same in any country with socialised healthcare though - if there are private facilities available, there's nothing to stop you paying to use them.

Here in the UK, you can use the NHS, or if you'd prefer to have dirty hospitals, bad food, the bare minimum of treatment and staff who cannot speak English and a view over the executive staff car park full of new Jaguars and Mercs, you could go private.

Making a profit is fundamentally incompatible with good healthcare. Something has to give.

Re:Seguro Popular -- it's not universal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065959)

>> Making a profit is fundamentally incompatible with good healthcare.

Why? It might cost more, but the USA is mostly profit driven, and it has some of the best healthcare available in the world. There's no universal coverage (hospitals can't refuse you, though), but as an individual "good healthcare" means that I get good services, not my neighbor.

Shock News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065695)

Doctors write paper claiming that the key to health is for a government to give doctors taxpayers money.......

Re:Shock News! (2)

The Slashdot 8Ball (1491493) | about 2 years ago | (#41065783)

from TFS:

Julio Frenk dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper.

He's an academic, not a medic.

Oddly enough there are people in the world who are not motivated solely by profit.

Re:Shock News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065933)

He was also the health minister of Mexico when this system was being implemented. You are right, he probably wasn't solely motivated by profit, I'm betting it was getting hard to pat himself on the back and needed others to do it for him.

Society (0)

coastwalker (307620) | about 2 years ago | (#41065781)

Without universal healthcare people live in ghettos and a country is full of factions at war. Apparently Mexico is a more civilized country than the rich antisocial faction of Americans would like it to be. Sometimes you wonder if the rabid religious nut-jobs who declare America to be the great Satan might have a point.

Re:Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065903)

The hilarious irony is America itself is full of factions at war with each other.
They are just more discrete about it whereas in Mexico the police system is more broken so the need to be overly-careful isn't required.

Whether it is race wars or standard gang wars, it happens all over the place.
It is pretty universal in any large country, and 100% in any continent, even Antarctica.

Re:Society (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41065927)

Without universal healthcare people live in ghettos and a country is full of factions at war. Apparently Mexico is a more civilized country than the rich antisocial faction of Americans would like it to be.

Mexico is a country full of factions at war.

Sometimes you wonder if the rabid religious nut-jobs who declare America to be the great Satan might have a point.

They do, but not just because we don't have universal health. Mexico is a country which continues to exist as an independent entity in spite of our best efforts.

Cost? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#41065809)

Interesting that they don't mention what this is costing the taxpayers. Maybe it's in the body of the paper which I can read for just $31.50.

Probably not.

Supply and demand doesn't apply here (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41065827)

I don't know why people don't get it. The "free market" people out there love to say "government shouldn't mess with it" and usually, I agree except when government has no choice.

Any time there is an unlimited supply, the government needs to help. Such cases include matters like "copyright" and "patent protection." The supply is unlimited and therefore must be enforced by government to use other means to get people to pay for something with an unlimited supply.

Any time there is an unlimited demandm the government needs to help. Such cases include matters like healthcare, water and electrical service. People need what they need and it has little to do with market conditions. Often is is "use or die." Government needs to ensure that needs of the people are met before suppliers are allowed to exploit the need to gain unlimited profits.

It's interesting and amusing to me that many such free market proponents are great with government enforced or assisted items like copyright but not with health and power regulation. "Only when it serves their interests." So it's selfish humanity as usual... and in the end, that's why we have law in the first place -- to help us to act against our own nature.

Re:Supply and demand doesn't apply here (2)

minio (1640735) | about 2 years ago | (#41065871)

Why should goverment force anyone to pay for something with unlimited supply??? By this logic a goverment should force people to pay for oxygen they are breathing.

Re:Supply and demand doesn't apply here (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41065939)

Well, there's a carbon tax or something like that right?

But without forcing people to pay for copyrighted and patented things, creativity and innovation would... hehehe... I can't even finish the sentence. People will create and innovate regardless of whether or not there is law in place to help make it a more profitable business. It's what humans do. And without intellectual property law, there would be no profitable business model. And in the end, that's what's being created/enabled by government "interference" here.

Just once, I would like someone ask the Romney side (I'm not for Obama either, but it's an easy target) "Okay, we get that you're against regulation of the medical industry, but why are you for regulation of the copyright industry? I guess it's all about the parties being regulated isn't it? It's okay when it's the 99% being regulated and not okay when it's the 1% being regulated.

Re:Supply and demand doesn't apply here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41066067)

And that logic is correct!

Governments do pay for the oxygen you breathe, they put in more trees and parks and make sure the air isn't toxic. I personally love my healthcare in Australia, I still have private health care at a cost of $10/week that covers all my dental needs with a 50% return on costs (two checkups a year almost covers what I pay alone!). I've been bankrupt and still had the luxury to get help with my depression at that time too with one-on-one sessions.

I do really feel sorry for the USA when it comes to health, it's amazing how badly brainwashed you all are! But hey, we still have our own issues too, progress...

Re:Supply and demand doesn't apply here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41065921)

So you confess to be selfish by nature. That's a good step forward. You also admit that you need help to act against your selfish feelings. If you ask government to help you by enacting laws which prescribe punishment, will you ever be able to tell whether your new "good" behavior is fear of punishment or genuine selflessness?

Better healthcare and they still come to the US (0)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about 2 years ago | (#41065863)

I guess healthcare doesn't mean that much to them...

Ironically... (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#41065889)

millions of Americans are not flocking to mexico for free medical care... rather millions of mexicans come north.

These stupid studies are all trying to prove the moon is brighter then the sun. It doesn't matter how many graphs, pie charts, or studies you do on the subject. The evident facts of the matter don't support the premise.

This isn't to say mexico can't one day have a great medical system. It's just that today... where do you honestly want to be treated? Exactly. End of argument.

And the US has ... (5, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41065987)

... nothing. President Lawnchair signed the massive bailout for the health insurance companies (which was conveniently disguised as "health care reform") which ultimately left us with the same broken system, but with people now forced to buy into it. We still have no standard of care, and nothing that actually resembled universal coverage.

And now to further accentuate how ridiculous that is, the Mexican government just beat us to health care reform as well. A significant portion of their country is embattled in violent conflict in the drug war, yet they can pass health care reform. Up here, we can't pass it because of a collection of idiots who are afraid of (their own lack of understanding of) "socialism".

Yeah, go ahead. Mod me down. I can take it. At least I said my piece.

You Mean, "Death Panels"? (1, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41066137)

Because that's what it sounds like to me! Death Panels! Because I want the right to have a homeopathic doctor (Excuse me, I mean "doctor" -- you can call them that if you use the quotes!) to treat my prostate cancer and if you don't let me, it's because of Death Panels!
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