The 'Paradox' of American Healthcare: Spending More for Less

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dr. Martha Perez examines Maria Lebron in a room at the Community Health of South Florida, Doris Ison Health Center on February 21, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

While Americans have long known that we spend more on healthcare than any other country on Earth, most of us aren't reaping the benefits. Compared to most other developed nations, the U.S. falls short on measures of life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, and rates of disease.

For Elizabeth Bradley and Lauren Taylor, the 2012 slogan of a prominent East Coast hospital encapsulates everything that's wrong with healthcare in America: "Because your health means everything."

Bradley, a professor of public health at Yale University, and Taylor, a presidential scholar at Harvard Divinity School, are the co-authors of "The American Health Care Paradox."

They argue that the problem may lie in the way Americans think about healthcare. As that hospital slogan indicates, most Americans see perfect health as a lifelong goal, while citizens in  Scandinavian countries (where health outcomes are better), see health as a precursor to a good life.

Bradley and Taylor quote a staffer at the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, who says, "People...should know that health is not the goal of life. But health is definitely a means that you can use to choose exactly the life you want because you don't have health, then your possibilities cannot...flow and grow."


Elizabeth Bradley and Lauren Taylor

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [4]


@novadust yet the UK, whose lifestyle-derived health burden is broadly similar (somewhat less, but still high obesity, far more alcohol and smoking) has vastly better outcomes and spends vastly less money.

Dec. 03 2013 06:32 AM

spending can't replace a healthy lifestyle. america has too much obesity n too many sedentary ppl. no one shd be surprised by our high disease rates n short lives. it's not what we do but what we don't do.

Nov. 28 2013 06:48 PM

Am I missing something or is this just a restatement of the idiocy of using the Fee for Services model for providing health care? Under the fee for services model, incomes are generated when sick people are treated. No sick people, no income.

How long until we pay providers for wellness?

Nov. 26 2013 03:50 PM

Americans are over medicated. Profits are put ahead of common sense medical advice: "Take 2 aspirin and go to bed."

Now statin drugs are supposed to cure everything, but are toxicity. All drugs are toxic to some degree. Many people are on blood thinners; it is not a simple medication. A little cut or bump becomes a complicated mess; gets infected, won't heal; they are sent to a hospital. The hospital is the worst place to be, because there are more opportunities for various infections, and further disease.

Education IS PARAMOUNT! Decent food could cure a lot, but Congress doesn't want to provide food stamps to supplement diets of the poor or educate . . and even the poor think everything can be cured by taking a pill~ the more pills the better. Healthcare is free in many countries, but they don't keep dying people alive for profit. Profit should have nothing to do with it.

We can't chose our genetics, but we can chose to live as clear a life as possible: stay clear of doctors, and make a clear differentiation between that and understanding what brings full health.

Nov. 26 2013 03:00 PM

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