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Which country has 2nd largest social welfare system in the world?

Palpy

Quite interesting!

In re US health care: there's a big difference, I think, between NHS and, say Aetna health insurance. The former does not pay stockholders; for the latter, profit is its raison d'etre. In 2013, Aetna paid its CEO $30,725,000 and some odd cents; John Holden (director of systems, NHS) got 125,000 pounds, or $234,000 in US dollars.

Where the monkey grabs the cheese is here: in the US system, profits are served when Aetna pays fewer patient claims. A farmer makes more money when he sells more aubergines, but Aetna makes more money when they deliver less medical care. (But sell more policies, of course.)

The US private insurance system also profits when only partial payments are made for care. Termed "co-insurance" or "co-pay", these mean that "comprehensive" insurance is actually akin to a 50%-off coupon. (My co-insurance percentage goes up almost every year.) The patient can be run into bankruptcy very fast even when they have paid up on "comprehensive" health insurance.

While health insurance is, in theory, a risk-spreading strategy, private insurance in the USA is in practice a rather cut-throat mega-business. The patients' throats are usually those which get cut.

But overall, the article to hand is quite the eye-opener. I guess those guys on the street-corners, the ones holding the cardboard signs that say "Homeless Vet, Anything Helps" must not be as badly off as they look.

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