On the one hand, the U.S. health care system is kind of lame. It consumes a ton of money. New York State spends $88 billion per year on its Department of Health, $4,400/year for every resident, mostly just for people on welfare in New York; Mexico spends about $1,100/year across all citizens, including those with jobs. The U.S. health care system delivers feeble results. Life expectancy in Mexico is 77 versus 78 in the U.S. Despite this prodigious spending, New York has completely failed to protect its residents from something that isn’t truly new.
On the other hand, the U.S. managed to build enough renal dialysis capacity to keep 468,000 Americans with failed kidneys alive. This is a complex procedure that requires expensive machines, and one that did not exist on a commercial basis until the 1960s.
Should this success story give us some hope that the U.S. will, in fact, be able to deal with the surge of demand for ventilation and life support created by the evil non-Chinese coronavirus?
Of course, one issue is that we had decades to build up all of this renal dialysis capability while we have only about one more month to build COVID-19 treatment capacity. But once we have built it, can we sail through the inevitable next wave or two of COVID-19?