Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If We Have The Greatest Health Care System In The World Why...

...does every reasonable statistic I've found show the opposite?
(Source of data is the World Health Organization, unless otherwise noted)

Life Expectancy/Measure: At birth, as of 2007
U.S. = 78 years
U.K. = 80 years
Canada = 81 years
Japan = 83 years
France = 81 years
Comment - Maybe we are fatter than most. Wait, I've seen some fairly pudgy Canadians, so that can't be the only reason, ey.

Infant Mortality Rate/Measure: Per 1,000 live births, as of 2007
U.S. = 6 (actually 6.26, but I rounded down)
U.K. = 5
Canada = 5
Japan = 3
France = 3
Comment - I doubt even Bill Frist could defend this one. The overall statistic itself is pretty misleading as far as the United States is concerned, as the actual rate is substantially higher in certain urban centers, such as Washington DC. In our nation's capitol, 10.6 infants die for every 1,000 live births. Source here. Is that bad? Well Boznia has a a lower rate at 9.10, as does the Ukraine (8.98), Hungary (7.86) and Latvia (8.77). What's the source for this no-doubt "socialist" data? Why it's the CIA World Factbook. You can link to the infant mortality list here.

Given the none-too-stellar numbers noted above, you would think that the problem in the U.S. was one of spending, i.e. we simply don't send enough on heath care, right? Well that would be wrong.

Spending on Health Care/Measure: % of Gross Domestic Product, as of 2006
U.S. = 15.3%
U.K. = 8.2%
Canada = 10.0%
Japan = 8.1%
France = 11.0%


The Bottom Line
Many supposed conservatives pride themselves as being driven by facts, not the emotions that they berate as being the motivators behind "bleeding heart" liberals. Unfortunately, when it comes to any measure I've seen regarding the quality of health care, there are no facts that support the notion that the United States has anywhere near the best health care delivery system in the world. Well, I should qualify the last statement by noting that when it comes to access to specialists, the U.S. does lead most other nations...it's just that having the access to these specialists doesn't actually translate into any meaningful result (such as a higher life expectancy).

Look, people are going to believe what they want to believe. However, few things in life bother me more than blatant hypocrisy, and when it comes to the debate about health care reform, there is so much hypocrisy coming out of the conservative talking heads that if it were water, you would be able to dive head-first into it (and not suffer a traumatic head injury...which would be bad, especially in the United States). The facts about health care tell a simple story:

In the United States, we pay more but get less out of our health care system.

That's something which is virtually impossible to deny.

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