>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Dear Dr. Sapolsky,
Please view this link. The data concern public funding of health care in terms of direct government expenditure. You will note that the United States ranks third in public expenditure for health care, behind Germany and Iceland and ahead of France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and a host of other European countries. Given this, I would advise you to reconsider this claim:
The defense spending squeeze is on and will become more constricted by health care reform. It is not apples and oranges. About half of the United States’ health care costs appear on the federal government’s budget, which directly affects revenues and expenditures. European nations plead poverty when it comes to funding their militaries in large part because of the squeeze of social spending (including health care). They spend a smaller, though rising, share of their GDPs on health than does the United States, but more of that spending is direct government expenditure.
Since your premise (that European states pay higher direct public expenditure health care costs than the US) is evidently incorrect, I'm wondering whether you'd be interested in revising your conclusions regarding the "squeeze" that health care costs are putting on European defense budgets. I would also invite you to consider whether the extraordinary level of private expenditure on health care in the United States might conceivably, through some heretofore unimagined mechanism, be redirected towards defense spending, assuming that the good people of the United States viewed such redirection as desirable. I would further invite you to make some fun, back of the envelope calculations about the kinds of weapons the Pentagon could buy if we adopted, say, the NHS wholesale. Finally, I would suggest you and others concerned with the impact of health care costs on the defense budget would acknowledge the fact that we have solid, comparative data indicating that the United States has the most staggeringly inefficient mechanism for the delivery of health care in the world, and that perhaps our best efforts ought to be directed at investigating the implications of this data rather than assembling such phrases as:
Health care cost control is an illusion. No one truly can make the health care system efficient. For many illnesses, nobody knows what works and what doesn’t. An aging population assures more medical expenditures.
Robert M. Farley