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Comparing Non-Fatal Health Across Countries: Is the US Medical System Better?

IESE Working Paper No. 525

35 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2004  

David M. Cutler

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Núria Mas

University of Navarra - IESE Business School

Abstract

The primary focus of the paper is to assess whether the US, which spends significantly more than any other country in health care, has better health outcomes. It has long been clear that mortality as a whole is not better in the US than in other countries. We focus our analysis on the US performance for the treatment of non-fatal health outcomes and we compare the health of the United States to that of Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain. Our results indicate a discrepancy between high quality of life for some outcomes and low quality of life for others. Such discrepancy is not attributable to measurement issues in determining a person's quality of life, nor is it attributable to differing performance by income. Our results suggest that the discrepancy is due to the fact that the US does better for the treatment of conditions where high-tech medicine is a key to better health and worse in conditions requiring substantial chronic disease management.

Keywords: International comparison, healthcare systems, chronic diseases, technology, health

Suggested Citation

Cutler, David M. and Mas, Núria, Comparing Non-Fatal Health Across Countries: Is the US Medical System Better?. IESE Working Paper No. 525. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=493644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.493644

David M. Cutler (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center, Room 315A
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United States
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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617-868-3900 (Phone)
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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Núria Mas

University of Navarra - IESE Business School ( email )

Avenida Pearson 21
Barcelona, 08034
Spain

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