November 19th, 2013
10:27 PM ET

What I'm reading: The problem with U.S. health care

By Fareed Zakaria

“Americans spend 17.7 percent of GDP on health care. No one else spends even 12 percent. Let's make that more concrete: If Americans only spent 12 percent of GDP on health care we would have saved $893 billion in 2012,” write Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas on Wonk Blog.

“The reason isn't that Americans get more health care than anyone else. We have more uninsured than anyone else. We have fewer physicians per capita than anyone but the Japanese. We go to the doctor less often than anyone but the Swiss. We don't have more hospital beds than other developed countries, and when we do go to the hospital, we don't stay longer.“But we do pay more for the privilege. The average hospital stay costs more than $21,000 in the U.S. It costs only $8,363 in France. Administrative costs in the U.S. are more than three times higher than in most nations with universal health-care systems.”


“Deng put China on a new course toward prosperity in 1978. Now Xi wants to move the country up the value chain,” argues William Pesek for Bloomberg. “In the interim, though, the power of vested interests has expanded drastically. Politics is proving to be a bit too lucrative for China’s own good as untold numbers of millionaires and even billionaires get minted among the Communist Party’s upper echelons. The desire for change understandably shrinks as overseas bank accounts swell. Few of the epochal changes Xi proposes will work without the cooperation of these reluctant cadres.”


“The Lebanese have long complained that their land was a proxy battlefield for meddling foreigners, to the degree that some even dubbed their fifteen-year civil conflict ‘the war of the others.’ Now they are the foreign parties intervening in somebody else’s civil war, some sending men, money, and munitions to Assad’s opponents, and others – chiefly Hezbollah – sending the same to the Syrian president,” writes Rania Abouzeid in the New Yorker.

“Apart from vaguely blaming Israel, which is the usual move after an unsolved attack, some local TV pundits and politicians have pointed out that [Tuesday’s Beirut] bombings may be an attempt not only to punish Hezbollah for fighting in Syria, but also to try to split it from its base. The idea is that Hezbollah’s supporters will blame the group for the car bombs in their neighborhoods, and put pressure on it to withdraw from the fight across the border…That’s highly unlikely for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the pain threshold for Hezbollah’s followers is high.”

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Allan Kinsman

    There are so many problems with health care in this country one cannot begin to even start a list. I worked as a registared nurse for over thirty years. I would say however in my experience we have the private sector reacting to the government mandates to improve care all the while medicare being reduced by the billions. Hospitals run on a thin profit margin as it is all the while regulation drives following rules and nurses rather than at the bedside they are required to chart on a ever widening scale reducing the exact thing government is trying to produce. If you want a system to fail you are well on the way to getting there. I have seen over paid administrators make decisions which cost millions of dollars yet they seem to be well compensated regardless of their performance. Just like congress. We have to decide if we are truly interested in a continous process of moving quality forward. This will follow from a commitment by reason, an active preventative program and education from an early start in school so children can understand the choices they must make toward a life of health and happiness.

    November 20, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  2. Nike

    The problem with U.S.A. in general: Democrats!

    November 20, 2013 at 6:06 am |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Fraud and incompetence can be expected in the heath care system of any nation that remains as divided as the USA. Our system reflects our people.
    The quest for dedicated providers of heath care here is now an individual responsibility.

    November 20, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  4. j. von hettlingen

    What is the number of "untold millionaires and billionaires" in China? Surely not as many as the hundreds of millions, who still have to struggle to make ends meet. They are Xi Jinping's target group. It looks as if the leader meant serious with his reforms.

    November 20, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  5. rightospeak

    The corporations run the US government and they do not care about health care for people.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

      Unless I interpreted your statement incorrectly, since when should corporations "care" about a person's "healthcare"? They don't, nor should they exist to provide "support" for anyone, in any shape or form...that's what local , governments, communities, churches and family are for. They exist to put money into your 401k and/or investment portfolio so you can if you're shrewd with your money, retire and enjoy life after your 9 to 5...

      November 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  6. chrissy

    No @ Nike, the problem with our country is greed! Pure and simple!

    November 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  7. ✠RZ✠

    Just by reading all the comments to this article, it is interesting how the problems being cited with our health care system seem to parallel the same for our government. In fact, the same type of cancer in these processes seems applicable to so many other ones from religion, to law, to how we construct buildings, and perhaps even to the way we drive everyday and just think. And if this is true, which I'm pretty sure it is, we need to stop and medicate for awhile until we can at least think straight again.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:03 am |

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