Saturday, July 07, 2007

Shticko, Opinion Polls and the AMA Cartel

Results from a 2006 UK poll about its National Health Service:

Results from a 2006 ABC poll on Health Care in America:
Charts above showing results from polls in the UK and US about health care are cited in this Reason Magazine article "Michael Moore's Shticko," showing that:

1. People in the U.K. are probably much less satisfied with their single-payer health care system than Moore's overly optimistic portrayal in Sicko of overwhelming satisfaction. For example, almost half (46%) of Brits are dissatisfied with the "running of the National Health Service," and only 44% are "satisfied." Almost 2/3 say that "The NHS has enough money but too much money is wasted," and only 4% say that "The NHS has enough money and the money is spent well" (see top chart above).

2. People in the U.S. are probably much more satisfied with our health care system than Moore's overly pessimistic portray of overwhelming dissatisfaction. For example, 88% of Americans say their own health care coverage is excellent or good, and 89% are satisfied with the quality of care they receive (see chart above). If about American 250 million people are insured, that means that there are about 225 million people in the U.S. who are satisfied with their coverage and medical care - and this overwhelming majority of satisfied American never made it into the movie.

It's true that Americans express lower levels of satisfaction when asked about "health care in the country as a whole," and 80% are dissatisfied with health care costs and 54% are dissatisfied with the "quality of health care." In other words, according to Reason, "Insured Americans are overwhelmingly (89%) satisfied with their own care, while broadly concerned about rising costs of prescription drugs and critical of the care others receive."

One important issue that Moore missed, and the issue that is almost always overlooked in the health care debate, is the government-sanctioned U.S. medical cartel, known as the American Medical Association (AMA), which has artificially restricted the supply of physicians for the last century the same way that DeBeers artificially restricts the supply of diamonds, with resulting artificially high wages/prices.

For example, the AMA created the Council on Medical Education in 1904 with the goal of shutting down many of the medical schools in existence, and reported in 1910 that "The curse of medical education is the excessive number of schools." Since the creation of the Council a century ago, the U.S. population has increased by 300% (75 to 300 million), yet the number of medical schools has declined by 26% from 166 to 123,
according to this report.

But when the ABC poll asked a question about the most important factors in rising health care costs, the closest they came to addressing the issue of an artificial restriction on the supply of physicians was the factor "Doctors/hospitals making too much money."

Suggestion: What about increasing the number of medical schools in the U.S. back to the level of the early 1900s?

3 Comments:

At 7/07/2007 8:57 AM, Anonymous Kit said...

In the US if you are not happy with your healthcare you can switch providers; in the UK you do not have that luxury. Choice, and the resulting competition, does wonders for the levels of satisfaction.

 
At 9/10/2007 3:25 PM, Anonymous Diane Schaefer said...

I have questions rather than a comment. How were the two polls on health care conducted? Were they nationwide random samples? Basically, how reliable are the data cited by the two polls?

 
At 9/10/2007 3:41 PM, Anonymous Diane Schaefer said...

I see that the U.S. study is a "nationally representative survey of 1,201 adults ages 18 years and older,...". I also see that Chart 1 shows that 54% of those surveyed indicated they were dissatisfied with the quality of their health care (80% dissatisfied with the cost).
I wonder if the uninsured portion of the sample was dropped by the time Chart 2, shown in your blog above, was developed.

 

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