Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Et tu Singapore?

I found a great article at the American Magazine by Rowan Callick about Singapore’s medical system. While it is not a libertarian’s dream is shows that the government need not have a heavy hand in medical coverage to achieve high health outcomes, and not every country has pursued socialized medicine.

Are they healthier? Who pays?

“Singaporeans are considerably healthier than Americans, yet pay, per person, about one-fifth of what Americans pay for their healthcare. A major reason is that Singapore’s system does not focus on the question that seems to preoccupy both Europe and America: who pays? Ultimately, whoever signs the checks, the money comes out of the pockets of individuals.”

“Here are some comparisons: Life expectancy at birth in the United States is 78 years; in Singapore, 82 years. The U.S. infant mortality rate is 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births; in Singapore, just 2.3 deaths per 1,000.”

How much do they spend?

“The World Health Organization’s most recent full report on global health statistics says the United States spends 15.4 percent of its GDP on healthcare, while Singapore spends just 3.7 percent. “

“In fact, the latest figures show that Singapore’s government spends only $381 (all dollars in this article are U.S.) per capita on health—or one-seventh what the U.S. government spends.”

For those of you who don’t know, the World Bank ranks Singapore as being wealthier than the United States on a per capita basis. The U.N. ranks Singapore as having only slightly more income inequality than the United States.

I also thought this quote sounded awfully similar to my sentiments on Health Savings Accounts

“In Singapore’s system, the primary role of government is to require people to save in order to meet medical expenses they don’t expect.”

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