Tax Burden, Health Care: Europe vs the U.S.

Nice article in the NY Times by Bruce Bartlett on the policy choices, taxation and health care, comparing the U.S. and other OECD countries. He notes:

1. The U.S. has very low taxes by international standards:

2. The difference in taxation is to a great degree the payment of health care costs in most industrialized countries by taxation and cash payments (family allowances) made to families in most Euopean countries.

He notes the impact of such payment on taxes:

The impact on the tax burden can be dramatic if one views family allowances as negative taxes. For example, in Luxembourg, an average married worker with two children pays a nominal income tax rate of 16.5 percent (including state and local income taxes), while an American in the same situation would pay 5.2 percent. But once family allowances are subtracted from the Luxembourg worker’s income-tax payment, the effective tax rate falls to just nine-tenths of 1 percent. (Medicynical note: lower than the U.S. )

3. Regarding health care in the U.S. national health insurance covers 72% of expenditures in other OECD countries and just 46.5 % in the U.S.

4. The U.S. pays more for health care than residents in any other major country. And the government share of current health spending that in the U.S. covers a just minority of citizens…

is about the same as total health care costs in many other countries, including (as a percentage of G.D.P.) Luxembourg (6.8 percent), Israel (7.8 percent), Japan (8.1 percent), Britain (8.4 percent) and Norway (8.5 percent).

That is, the proportion of GDP we spend now for just those on medicare, and medicaid in the U.S. non-system covers the total health costs in other countries. We are one of the least efficient, lowest value health care “systems” in the world. Exceptional!

Read the article, it’s short and clear.

Medicynical Note: The solution being offered by Ryan, provides less coverage for those in medicare and medicaid; does nothing about the 50 million uninsured. It will likely cut costs but also cut care provided and result in the deaths of our citizens. Amazingly modest proposal.

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