Thursday, 9 April 2009

Dear Wingnuts - about that medical tourism...

For years now, whenever comparative studies are bought up showing the problems with the US health system, winguts routinely respond with "what about the hordes of Canadians heading south to use our system, huh?" They never quantify this, of course.

But on quantification:

A report published last month by Deloitte, a consultancy, predicts that the number of Americans travelling abroad for treatment will soar from 750,000 last year to 6m by 2010 and reach 10m by 2012 (see chart). Its authors reckon that this exodus will be worth $21 billion a year to developing countries in four years’ time. Europe’s state-funded systems still give patients every reason to stay at home, but even there, private patients may start to travel more as it becomes cheaper and easier to get treated abroad.
One motive is to save money. America’s health inflation has consistently outpaced economic growth, making it the most expensive health market in the world. The average price at good facilities abroad for a range of common medical procedures is, by Deloitte’s reckoning, barely 15% of the price a patient would have to pay in the United States (see table)

And for good measure, from Medtral (in a Metro article, Apr 2009, sourced to the American Medical Association):

Surgery costs by country (costs in US$, excluding implants and travel)
Procedure USA India Thailand Singapore New Zealand
Heart bypass 130,000 10,000 11,000 18,500 19,000
Heart valve replacement 160,000 9,000 10,000 12,500 17,500
Hysterectomy 20,000 3,000 4,500 6,000 6,500
Knee replacement 40,000 8,500 10,000 13,000 15,000
Spinal fusion 62,000 5,500 7,000 9,000 7,500

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Can't keep a good woman down...

Clark will be 'spinning wheels' to start UN job:

The United Nations General assembly has approved former prime minister Helen Clark as the new head of the UN Development Programme.
The position is the third highest in the UN, behind the secretary-general and his deputy.

The former prime minister - from 1999 to 2008 - gained unanimous approval from the 192-nation General Assembly.

The UNDP oversees a global development network with an estimated US$13 billion ($23.12 billion) in resources. It operates in 166 nations.

Clark is, by the way, impressive and articulate in person. I'd place her up against any world leader - the timing wasn't right for her to be Secretary General last time, but she's still in the running for the next opening. Incidentally, the budget for the agency is about a third of total NZ government revenues.