As I said recently, I’ve been writing less here for a number of reasons. One is that I’ve been asked to write on other sites. Another, a sobering factor, as that after years of study, I’ve concluded that the American healthcare system has tied itself in a fatal knot. The post shown here, on the Patient Power blog, is an example of both.
You can use this to understand enormous sums of money, too:
$1 = one grain of rice
$1000 = cup of rice
$1 million = 8 bags of rice
$1 billion = 3 trailer trucks of rice
$1 trillion = 2 ocean freighters (3,000 truckloads)
$3 trillion (the US healthcare budget) = 6 ships (9,000 truckloads)
When someone says a health improvement project will save (or cost us) $100 million a year, it’s a lot, but think:
- The proposed amount is like 800 bags of rice.
- The US health budget is 9,000 truckloads of rice
Puts it in perspective.
Thanks to @Green_Goddess, Caroline Taylor, CMO of IBM Global Markets, for the visualization, and to @Sasanof for tweeting it. Don’t I love how social media helps ideas spread??
Update next day:
One of my very early blog posts, on my old blog, was on this same subject. March 9, 2009: Comprehending the US healthcare budget. Here are the graphics from that one:
Here’s 100 times as much – a million hundred-dollar bills, $100 million:
Ten of those – a billion:
And a thousand of those – a trillion. Check out the little dude, who’s now in the bottom left corner:
And US healthcare is three times that size.
This helps me, for one, start to comprehend the magnitude of the problem. Something like that does not shrink willingly: lots of people would lose their jobs, including CEOs etc. That’s why I liken US healthcare to “a tumor that doesn’t know how to stop growing and killing its host.”
Go back up and take a look at the size of one million in this picture. Urk.
After years of study of healthcare around the world, listening to an immense number of arguments about what’s important and what works and doesn’t, it’s all summed up in this one picture. The Y axis is life expectancy; the X axis is cost. This graph has been tweeted furiously and often lately by health journalist @DanMunro. (More on him below.)
You can easily see that US health costs per capita are way, way, way out of whack with the rest of the world. And, the life expectancy we get for it is years worse than the countries that cost 2-3x less.
Some will argue bitterly that the facts aren’t relevant, or a hundred other arguments. I’ve lost interest in those arguments, because they’re all about rationale, and no rationale is worth a damn if the outcomes they’re trying to explain don’t match the rationale.