, Michael Moore's new film, reveals the terrible healthcare decisions that some Americans have to make. For example, one man stitched up a gash in his own knee because professional care would be too costly.
But the World Health Organization says people in poorer countries have to make similar decisions far more regularly, and the impact is often devastating. WHO researchers studied 89 national surveys of domestic spending and found that worldwide, 150 million households suffer "financial catastrophe" each year due to healthcare costs.
“150 million households suffer financial catastrophe each year due to healthcare costs”
The biggest impact is in Brazil and Vietnam, where 10 per cent of households each year are affected. Families in richer nations also suffer: rates for Switzerland and the US exceed 0.5 per cent (Health Affairs
, DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.26.4.972
). In each case the severity of the problem is linked to how much people have to pay for treatment relative to public funding.
Government-run healthcare systems, such as the UK's National Health Service, may be one answer, though many poorer nations cannot afford to implement them, the researchers say.