Is the United States an outlier in health care and health outcomes? A preliminary analysis

Int J Health Care Finance Econ. 2006 Mar;6(1):3-23. doi: 10.1007/s10754-006-6863-8.


U.S. health care is often seen as an outlier, with high costs and only middling outcomes. This view implies a household production function for health, with both health care and lifestyle serving as inputs. Building on earlier work by Miller and Frech (2004), we make this argument explicit by estimating a production function from augmented OECD data. This allows us to determine whether the U.S. is literally an outlier; which turns on whether the United States is very far off the production surface. We find that the Unites States is somewhat less productive than the average OECD country, but that a substantial part of the observed difference results from poor lifestyle choices, particularly obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alcohol Drinking / economics
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Efficiency, Organizational / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internationality
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology