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Answer: pretty much sweet fuck all.

This graphic sums up EVERYTHING that is wrong with healthcare in the US.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
1st Mar, 2010 20:43 (UTC)
That's a charming graph, as far as it goes, but the lines don't actually MEAN very much, since there's no correspondence between the y-axis on the left and the y-axis on the right. If there was, it would imply that Americans should expect to live to 100 for the money they're paying. If anything, the way it's scaled suggests that Mexico's non-universal system is the most efficient in the world, since it has a steeper slope even than Japan's and yet people hardly ever have to go see a doctor!
1st Mar, 2010 20:53 (UTC)
It shows the relationship between the scales.

The scale of spending vs the scale of longevity.

It's also centered on the averages - so in the case of the UK it's rough parity.

Obviously it's not about the steepness of the slope, it's about the relationship of that slope to the cost.

Living better is longer.
Spending less is better.

Finding the right balance between these is a great goal.

The US fails on both, Japan does rather well on both, and Mexico does poorly at one but well at another.

The number of times people go to the doctor is an interesting stat, but kind of clouds the issue. However in a value for money sense it does add useful information - basically people in the US pay a ridiculous amount for health care they don't/can't use and get very little benefit out of it.

How you can call that not meaning very much I don't know. There is a ton of data in that graph, very clearly illustrated.

I also don't think anyone could take your conclusion seriously - given that Mexico is obviously performing BADLY. They may spend very little, but they get very little out of it. The line may be steep, but it also still ends in a really awful position.
1st Mar, 2010 21:06 (UTC)
My main point (which I admittedly didn't make very well) was that there's no inherent correspondence between the scale being used on the left and the one being used on the right, which appears to be $1000 vs. 1 year. Like I said, as scaled, the implication is that the US should have an average life expectancy of 100 for the money we're spending, which is absurd. If you stretched out the right scale so that it covered as much y as the left scale - say, so that the 75 year mark was opposite the $1000 mark - it would make Mexico look more impoverished than super-efficient, while still retaining a rather steep slope to show the US's inefficiency, and really highlight countries like Japan, Spain, South Korea and the Czech Republic that seem to be getting a lot of bang for their buck. And leveling out the lines of the many other countries to make the correspondence between amount spend and level of care quite clear. If you stretched that scale, it seems that most of the lines would be flat or nearly so; the particular correspondence of scales chosen seems arbitrary, and chosen to make the US look as ridiculous as possible (and it is, admittedly, ridiculous), and send some message about Mexico, though I'm not quite sure what that message is intended to be.
1st Mar, 2010 21:22 (UTC)
Right - the compression of the scale is slightly arbitrary, though the centering at the averages makes sense. Your argument seems mostly against the centering of the average lifespan and average health care costs. I'm not sure why - that makes a ton of logical sense.

I think however that the scale compression point is valid, though I do feel that no matter the scale you would still get the same impression of the data.

If it was much more compressed it would over exaggerate the disparity between the extremes and if it was stretched more it would exaggerate the differences in the opposite way (compressing things that aren't that close).

I having just played around with it in photoshop a little it is actually one of the better ways to scale it while still keeping the data clear.

1st Mar, 2010 22:59 (UTC)
This is an excellent representation.
2nd Mar, 2010 04:43 (UTC)
I just like clever attempts at visualizing complex subjects, and this has some neat stuff going there.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )