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Surprising Science

Emerging Countries Avoid American-Style Health Care

As countries like China, India and South Africa come of age, they are more likely to adopt European-style national health care services than America’s peculiar brand of privatization.

What’s the Latest Development?

As Obamacare sits on the Supreme Court’s chopping block, emerging nations face new possibilities, and obligations, in caring for their citizens. Expanding wealth in countries like China, India and South Africa have leaders shopping for health care models but they are not likely to look toward the US, say public health experts. Currently, health care expenditures are 16% of America’s GDP and, if left unchecked, will reach 25% by 2025. That means a “robust” health care market but massive single-family medical expenditures can also be a poverty trap. 

What’s the Big Idea?

There are several reasons why public health experts recommend a single-payer health care system. One, government expenditure on health care can keep patients from falling into poverty just for paying their medical bills—and when people are not spending money on health care, they are spending it in other areas of the economy. Government-funded health services increase employment directly, by hiring doctors and nurses, and indirectly, by attracting businesses who would rather not pay for pricey private insurance packages. 

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