The London-based Legatum Institute recently released its Prosperity Index, which ranks countries according to eight broad criteria. Using Legatum's methodology, the Greatest Nation On Earth ranks twelfth. By category, the ranking broke down like this—
- Economy — #20
- Entrepreneurship & Opportunity — #12
- Governance — #10
- Education — #5
- Health — #2
- Safety & Security — #27
- Personal Freedom — #14
- Social Capital — #10
I made your life easier by highlighting the ringer in the bunch — the United States is ranked #2 in Health!
For over 20 years now, many Americans have considered access to basic health care to be the Number One Problem in the United States, and for good reason. In fact, President Barack Obama, who will be the President until January, 2017, took it upon himself to make health care his #1 priority during his first term. As a result, the Congress passed and Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, aka. Obamacare, which broadened the Medicare & Medicaid "entitlement" umbrella, reformed the payout rules in those programs, and changed the rules for getting health care by requiring Americans to get said health insurance in 2014, if they can afford it.
Some fiscal "hawks" have pointed out, as I have, that Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid are still on track to totally bankrupt the nation by 2022, or maybe 2025 if the exact year matters to you. Obamacare is intended to slow the rate of increase in the cost of government-sponsored health care, not decrease those costs. Overall, Obamacare will add to fiscal outlays. The situation is completely out of control. See my post The Coming Health Care Debacle (March 29, 2012).
Early Obamacare provisions have led to a small decrease in the number of Americans without coverage according to the 2011 Census data.
The number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50.0 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011, as did the percentage without coverage — from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011.
Needless to say, the large majority of these 48.6 million Americans have no health insurance because they can not afford it. That's a lot more people than the total population of countries which were ranked well behind the United States in Health by the Legatum Institute. And among people who do have health insurance in the United States, especially private insurance they must pay for themselves, most are experiencing inflation in the the cost of that insurance which will give them a stark choice in about 10 years—they can buy health insurance OR they can eat, buy gas and electricity, keep a roof over their heads, etc. In short, millions and millions of Americans are headed for a situation in which their choices will be buy health insurance and die, or don't buy health insurance and take your chances.
Will the Federal government cover all these people? Fat chance!
Inflation for selected items since 1985. I used this graph in my March 7, 2012 post The Screwing Of The American People Continues
And yet, the United States is #2 in the category Health according to the Legatum Institute. Have soaring health insurance costs slowed down? Yes, but not enough, if one year a trend makes. I'll quote from the Reuters report Employer healthcare premiums outpace inflation, wages (September 11, 2012)
A study released on Tuesday showed that premiums for employer-sponsored health plans, which cover about 149 million Americans, grew a modest 4 percent to $15,745 in 2012.
It was a substantially slower rate of growth than in past years, including 2011, when premiums jumped 9 percent.
But the study's authors at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, said higher costs still took a bigger bite from the income of middle-class employees, whose wages advanced only 1.7 percent, as employers shifted more healthcare costs to their workers.
This year's 4 percent increase eclipsed a general inflation rate of 2.3 percent. Some employers told researchers that insurers plan to push premiums up another 7 percent in 2013, the study said.
There are many other issues I could get into here, but I don't have enough time today. For example, we could talk about disturbing trends in life expectancy and infant mortality. I have already discussed the Type-2 Diabetes epidemic among teens and the obesity which advances it in my posts An Epidemic Of Diabetes In American Teenagers and The Fattest People On Earth.
So is America really #12 on the Prosperity Index? Hell, no!