Sometimes visualization helps

So everybody knows that the US health system is broken, right? Well, that makes finding charts to show that it’s broken so easy. Look at this one from National Geographic:

Sadly, like most “easy to understand” graphs, it only gives you a way of seeing that there is a problem, but it provides no help in identifying what the problem really is. Where is all this money going if not to improve the general health of the population? Or maybe it’s just because the cost of living is higher in the US, so doctors, nurses, and other health care staff get higher salaries and this increases the average cost? But maybe the high cost of living is caused by high medicals costs – and there you have your vicious cycle!

Other factors that probably should be taken into consideration here: how much is this actually due to external factors that make the population “sicker”? Bad nutrition, too much use of cars and other mostly-passive modes of transportation, too much sitting in front of the TV… Maybe the problem is not the left hand side of the graphic, but the right side of it.

Anyway, at least there is a lot of activity right now on trying to understand what is going on and how to improve it. It doesn’t mean that it will make it better, but at least without this activity it would never be better.

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