French Health Care Costs

Bruce Bartlett emails to point out that it’s probably not right to say, as I quoted Kevin Drum saying this morning, that France spends half of what we spend on health care. If you look at it in terms of percent of GDP, they spend about two thirds of what we spend. Here’s a chart of OECD data on the subject:


Now I think that’s a pretty striking chart. Politics is politics, and that means change that’s fairly incremental. But looking at that chart, and abstracting away from the practicalities of it, you’ll need to show me overwhelming evidence that the United States is getting better health outcomes than these other countries are before I stop thinking that a hefty dose of socialism is what the health care sector needs.


To be clear, Kevin’s not wrong to say that the French spend about half of what we do. If you look at health care spending on a per capita basis, that’s what you get. But I think looking in percent of GDP basis creates a more enlightening comparison; otherwise you just get the conclusion that richer countries spend more money.

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