Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10 Surprising Facts About American Health Care

Fact No. 1: Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.

Fact No. 2: Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.

Fact No. 3: Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries.

Fact No. 4: Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.

Fact No. 5: Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians.

Fact No. 6: Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.

Fact No. 7: People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed.

Fact No. 8: Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians.

Fact No. 9: Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K.

Fact No. 10: Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations.

Conclusion: Despite serious challenges, such as escalating costs and the uninsured, the U.S. health care system compares favorably to those in other developed countries.

Source: Scott Atlas, M.D.,senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Stanford University Medical Center.


At 3/24/2009 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I always found interesting is how people always bash our health care system because it doesn't rank as high as they think it should when World Health Organization ranks them. One of the criteria they use is if it is socialized or not. So we automatically drop down because we are a private(kind of) system. It's no wonder that socialized systems rank better than ours if the fact that it's socialized makes them rank higher just by itself.

At 3/24/2009 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering how would you explain the two facts below:
1) about 4700 Americans have no health insurances.
2) every 30 second one American declares bankruptcy due to health care cost.

At 3/24/2009 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering how would you explain the two facts below:
1) about 47 mln Americans have no health insurances.
2) every 30 second one American declares bankruptcy due to health care cost.

At 3/24/2009 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's easy, Anonymous.

#1 is simply false, http://spectator.org/archives/2009/03/20/the-myth-of-the-46-million.

And #2 is at best questionable, http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/02/what_causes_personal_bankruptc.php.

At 3/24/2009 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to the questions posted above I would say:

1. the 47 million figure includes a large number of people who may be without insurance for a brief period of time. In addition, lack of insurance does not preclude lack of treatment. I'm not saying this isn't a problem, it's just that 47 million overstates the problem.

2. I would question your source. If every 30 seconds one American declares bankruptcy due to health care costs, that translates to 1, 051,200 people per year. This sounds awfully high to me so I would question the validity of the statistic.

At 3/24/2009 10:52 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

1.) Several reasons. The lack of health insurance is largely the result of state interference. States set insurance mandates. This means that insurers cannot offer a plan that doesn't include these mandates which increase the cost of insurance and reduces choice for the consumer. Additionally, health insurance has become a factor of employment. This reduces the options for the unemployed and those who are employed part time as they attend school, etc. I'm assuming you're throwing around the 47MM number, not 4700. That number is inflated by illegal immigrants and by people who are young and simply don't feel the need to spend on health insurance even though they can afford it (right or wrong, it should be their choice). Unless you're advocating for American's to pay for Mexico's healthcare, then I suggest your number is about 3 times larger than it should be.

2.) The number one reason for bankruptcy is losing one's job. Unpaid medical bills often show up in the stack of bills which the bankrupt party can't pay. Those who advocate for socialized medicine in the United States blame those bankruptcies on the medical bills to the exclusion of everything else.

I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals in countries with socialized medicine. What passes for medical care in those countries is not what most Americans would accept as medical care.

The reason that WHO ranks socialized medicine systems higher (aside from the fact that the WHO is a socialist organ itself) is the claim that socialized medicine provides access to all, regardless of ability to pay. Those in public health who have studied the system know that the poorest and least connected have very little access to care in a system of rationed care. A wait list is not care. I am from a family of respected doctors, so I was well connected enough to be pushed to the front of the line. Had I been less connected and less wealthy to pay bribes, I would have died.

At 3/24/2009 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to WHO we rank number 38, behind such places as Taiwan.

We pay twice as much in health care costs as our next closest competitor, Switzerland, with not near as good results, overall.

At 3/24/2009 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Medically uninsured does not mean medically-untreated or unpaid. Uncompensated care runs about 2-3%. Few other businesses have 'bad debts' as low as this.

At 3/24/2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"47 million overstates the problem."

I don't think so. A lot of people believe thay have insurance, only to find out they do not.

The real question is how much do we spend on uninsured health care? The fact that the uninsured sometimes get health care says nothing about the state of our insurance plan.

I had an insurance policy canceled -retroactively - after 18 months of coverage. th insurance company then went back and backcharged my providers, who then charged me - at the retail rate. I took my case to the state insurance commissioner who told me it eas all legal. The insurance company can back out of their contract for up to two years, without cause or explanation.

Before that, I and my employers paid health insurance for 30 years, except the first time I needed health insurance I was sick enough that I could not work, lost my job and my health insurance, duly paid for 30 years.

Please explain to me where is the "insurance" in a system that allows these and many other abuses.

You think maybe that is why WHO ranks the socialized systems higher? Less cheating and graft maybe?

At 3/24/2009 11:06 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Anon 10:53

Its obvious you didn't read either the first comment or the one directly above yours. Either that or it was easier to just ignore them and spout out some facts you just googled.

At 3/24/2009 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK so uncompensated care runs 2-3%.

If that is true, then how can we claim we can't afford universal coverage?

Maybe because it is a partial truth that covers up the huge costs of uncompensated care that never happens. Or compensated care that is paid, but results in bankruptcy.

At 3/24/2009 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extreme Hobo:

Those facts came from a research project I've been working on for months.

What I have learned is that there ae alot of flavors of "truths", generally hidden with various kinds of political food coloring.

Bottom line as far as I can tell: we spend far too much for what we get.

When you can fly to Switzerland, ski for two weeks, and come ome with a years worth of meds for what the meds alone cost here, there is something seriously wrong.

I don't care which political party comes up with a fix, but what we have now is broken. Right now some people won't even admit that much, because they know the next step is to propose a solution. Not having one, they propose to do nothing.

I wish them good health, they are going to need it.

Anon 10:53

At 3/24/2009 11:31 AM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Foreign medication is so "cheap" because the US pays for it all. It is sold to other countries that barter as a whole to negotiate cheaper prices. America ends up paying for all the R&D and the drug companies still make a profit on selling to the foreign country in terms of cost/revenue per item sold. Its the price we pay for inventing damn near every medical breakthrough in the last 30 years. Other countries get to suck-off the US' ingenuity as always.

At 3/24/2009 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans who get care are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians.

Maybe that is why my social security advisor (who was Canadian) told me when I was on medical disability - that one of my best options was to move to Canada.

At 3/24/2009 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In "Die in Britain, survive in U.S.," the cover article of the February 2005 issue of The Spectator, a British magazine, James Bartholomew details the downside of Britain's universal health care system.

Among women with breast cancer, for example, there's a 46 percent chance of dying from it in Britain, versus a 25 percent chance in the United States. "Britain has one of worst survival rates in the advanced world," writes Bartholomew, "and America has the best."

If you're a man diagnosed with prostate cancer, you have a 57 percent chance of it killing you in Britain. In the United States, the chance of dying drops to 19 percent. Again, reports Bartholomew, "Britain is at the bottom of the class and America is at the top."

Explains Bartolomew: "That is why those who are rich enough often go to America, leaving behind even private British health care." The reason isn't that we sue more in America and scare doctors into efficiency, or that our medical schools are better. It's more simple than that. "In America, you are more likely to be treated," writes Bartholomew, "and going back a stage further, you are more likely to get the diagnostic tests which lead to better treatment."


And if we measure a health-care system by how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Five-year cancer survival rates bear this out. For leukemia, the American survival rate is almost 50 percent; the European rate is just 35 percent. Esophageal carcinoma: 12 percent in the United States, 6 percent in Europe. The survival rate for prostate cancer is 81.2 percent here, yet 61.7 percent in France and down to 44.3 percent in England—a striking variation.


Don't Fall Prey to Propaganda: Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are Unreliable Measures for Comparing the U.S. Health Care System to Others

At 3/24/2009 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to WHO we rank number 38, behind such places as Taiwan.

The WHO judged a country's quality of health on life expectancy. But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That's not a health-care problem.

Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

... the U.S. didn't score high in the WHO rankings is that we are less socialistic than other nations. What has that got to do with the quality of health care? For the authors of the study, it's crucial. The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed."


At 3/24/2009 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But last June, a majority of Canada's Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law that banned private health insurance and held that the public system inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on many of its patients. The Fraser Institute has found it takes an average of 17.9 weeks between the time a patient makes an appointment to see a general practitioner and when he can then see a specialist. He will then be treated by a system that ranks 13th out of 22 advanced countries in access to MRI technology; 17th out of 21 in access to CT scanners and seventh out of 22 in access to radiation machines. The safety valve in the system is that nearby U.S. hospitals can provide treatment for emergency cases and patients willing to pay.

But Canada's public care doesn't save money. As the satirist P.J. O'Rourke once noted, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free." When adjusted for the age of its population, Canada vies with Iceland and Switzerland as the highest spender on health care among the 28 most developed nations with universal systems. Dr. David Gratzer, a Toronto physician affiliated with the Manhattan Institute, calculates that a Canadian earning $35,000 a year pays a stunning $7,350 in health-care taxes.

Canada's Supreme Court was scathing in its indictment of the system. "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care," the court ruled. "Delays in the public health care system are widespread . . . in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists." The court struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance, which should lead to successful challenges to similar laws in other provinces. While last week the court stayed the impact of its ruling in Quebec for a year, a nationwide debate on why Canada is the only country other than Cuba and North Korea to ban private insurance and private care has finally broken out.


At 3/24/2009 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TORONTO - A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

The patient wasn't dead, according to the doctor who showed the letter to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. But there are many Canadians who claim the long wait for the test and the frigid formality of the letter are indicative of a health system badly in need of emergency care.

Americans who flock to Canada for cheap flu shots often come away impressed at the free and first-class medical care available to Canadians, rich or poor. But tell that to hospital administrators constantly having to cut staff for lack of funds, or to the mother whose teenager was advised she would have to wait up to three years for surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.

The average Canadian family pays about 48 percent of its income in taxes each year, partly to fund the health care system. Rates vary from province to province, but Ontario, the most populous, spends roughly 40 percent of every tax dollar on health care, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The system is going broke, says the federation, which campaigns for tax reform and private enterprise in health care.

It calculates that at present rates, Ontario will be spending 85 percent of its budget on health care by 2035. "We can't afford a state monopoly on health care anymore," says Tasha Kheiriddin, Ontario director of the federation. "We have to examine private alternatives as well."


At 3/24/2009 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Foreign medication is so "cheap" because the US pays for it all. It is sold to other countries that barter as a whole to negotiate cheaper prices. "

If the companies voluntarily sell in volume at a discount like many other businesses, how does that equate to the US "paying for it all"?

When I sell bulk soybeans overseas at a discount I get a check from Japan, so how is the US paying for all that again? I'm missing something, obviously.

Lets suppose that foreign bulk buyers agreed to chip in 5% extra to help cover the costs of US R&D. Do you suppose that non-bulk buyers in the US would pay any less?

Don't large American insurance companies also negotiate lowerprices for their customers? By you rlogic would that mean foreign countries are paying more?


and the drug companies still make a profit on selling to the foreign country in terms of cost/revenue per item sold.

If the drug companies are still making a profit selling it to them, why do they charge us so much?

You haven't made a convincing argument between the cost of R&D and the prices paid by various groups. If they are still selling at a profit overseas, then how is it that overseas sales don't contribute SOMETHING to R&D?

The companies voluntarily enter these deals, if they need more for R&D they can negotiate harder, but they don't. That is because they figure they would get diminished returns by charging more. They are not stupid.

At 3/24/2009 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.

The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: "the father of Quebec medicare." Even this title seems modest; Castonguay's work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.

Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis."

"We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."

What would drive a man like Castonguay to reconsider his long-held beliefs? Try a health care system so overburdened that hundreds of thousands in need of medical attention wait for care, any care; a system where people in towns like Norwalk, Ontario, participate in lotteries to win appointments with the local family doctor.

Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape.


At 3/24/2009 12:06 PM, Blogger juandos said...

From the soon to politicized Census Bureau we have the following: Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Declines, Number of Uninsured Up...

Obviously the real reason why there are alledgedly 47 million uninsured out there is that all the socialist liberals whining about it haven't opened up their own wallets and shelled out for the premiums for the uninsured...

At 3/24/2009 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Movies such as "Sicko" and "John Q," a wave of admiringly reviewed books, newspaper pundits and cable news commentators batter Americans with a daily message that the U.S. needs to embrace a universal, government-run system similar to Canada's or Britain's.

What they don't tell you is that both Canada's and Great Britain's routinely block or delay access to needed treatments and often treat elderly patients with cavalier contempt.

The national health care system in my country is racked by agonizingly long waits and rationing of many vital medical services, starting with a severe shortage of the family physicians who are gatekeepers of our care.

More than 800,000 Canadians currently are in long holding patterns for operations that would be done in the U.S. in a few weeks after the initial diagnosis. Sadly, many will die before they make it to the head of the line. Those who can find a way flee to the U.S. for the quality medical service so often lacking at home.

The benchmark question for any nation's health care system is whether their citizens are forced to go abroad for quality accessible health care treatment. The answer in America is obvious.

In the decades since World War II, millions of Canadians, Europeans, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans have flocked to the U.S. for life-saving medical procedures. With few exceptions, that has been a one-way flow.


At 3/24/2009 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rise in the number of uninsured people (up from 42 million in 2002) is not due to a sudden moral failure of the country or a broken health system. Instead, a major cause is immigration and cultural differences that make recent arrivals especially likely to be uninsured.

Immigration over the past seven years has been the largest for any seven-year period in American history. Over 10 million immigrants entered the country, more than half of them illegally, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. Nearly 75% of the increase in the number of uninsured people since 1990 consists of newcomers and their U.S. born children, according to the study.

In the most recent Census report, the lion's share of the increase in the uninsured occurred in five border states: Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. In San Francisco, public health authorities estimate that 61% of the city's uninsured are not citizens.

According to the Census Bureau, of the 47 million uninsured, nearly 10 million have household incomes of at least $75,000. They probably can afford coverage but have chosen not to buy it. Another 14 million of the uninsured are already eligible for government programs such as Medicaid (for low income adults) and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (for children) and simply need to sign up.


At 3/24/2009 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In his research on productivity and health care for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Columbia business professor Frank R. Lichtenberg found a direct connection between new drug approvals and rapidly increased longevity.

Lichtenberg reckons the average new drug approval adds a total of 1.2 million years to the lives of current and future generations. With it costing the pharmaceutical industry about $500 million to bring a new drug to market, Lichtenberg extrapolated that the "cost per life-year gained is $424" — just a fraction of the economic value of a single year of a person's life of $150,000, cited by Lichtenberg based on calculations by University of Chicago economics professors Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel.

Drug manufacturers such as Pfizer have been performing such incalculably valuable services to Americans and the rest of the world for generations.

It may have been the disorganized Alexander Fleming who won the Nobel Prize for accidentally discovering penicillin in 1928. But he actually failed to recognize its importance and abandoned his discovery. Pfizer, with its expertise in fermentation, mass produced the new wonder drug in response to an appeal from the U.S. government, saving multitudes of Allied forces in World War II.


At 3/24/2009 12:45 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

If the drug companies are still making a profit selling it to them, why do they charge us so much?

I said per item sold.

If it cost $100 mil to research a drug. But then raw materials cost $.40 to make a pill, then you can sell a single pill at $.41 and make a per item profit, if you are ignoring the R&D cost that Americans get stuck with.

About the 5% thing, just try and get Europe to pay an extra 5% out of the kindness of their heart's to save American consumers a lil cash and see what happens.

If America also "bargained as a whole" we would see a massive slowdown in R&D spending as making drugs generated less of a profit.

Its not that why are OUR drug prices so high(for non-generics, our generics are cheap as hell), its that other countries get them real cheap. We are paying what they actually cost.

At 3/24/2009 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are the uninsured in America?

At 3/24/2009 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor.

Ontario's government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months-long wait for surgery.


At least 30,000 patients were left starving on NHS wards last year, despite ministers’ pledges to make proper nutrition in hospitals a priority.

Last year, Health Minister Ivan Lewis admitted that some patients were given a single scoop of mash as a meal.

Others were ‘tortured’ with trays of food placed just beyond their reach while nurses said they were too busy to help them eat.

And now, official figures show that between 2005 and 2007, there was an 88 per cent rise in reported cases of poor nutrition leading to a serious deterioration in a patient’s health.

Last year, NHS whistleblowers reported 29,138 such errors to the National Patient Safety Agency – up from 15,473 in 2005.

They refer to elderly patients who are not properly fed and those given the wrong types of food, causing their health to worsen.

As the figures only represent reported cases, actual numbers are likely to be even greater.


Compare the treatment the citizens of Canada and the U.K. get with the care that these people received.

Socialized health care without tighter immigration control is an invitation to national ruin.

At 3/24/2009 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comparing "live births" in any EU country with the USA is comparing apples and oranges.

"The exclusion of any high-risk infants from the denominator or numerator in reported IMRs can be problematic for comparisons. The United States counts many infant births as live which other countries do not and therefore usually appears to have a much higher rate of infant mortality than similar countries. The US counts an infant exhibiting any sign of life as alive, no matter the month of gestation or the size, but other countries differ in these practices. For example, in Germany and Austria, fetal weight must reach one pound to be counted as a live birth, while in some other countries, including Switzerland, the baby must be at least 12 inches long. Both Belgium and France report babies as born lifeless if they are less than 26 weeks' gestation."

The full article:

I am Macquechoux.

At 3/24/2009 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"James Bartholomew details the downside of Britain's universal health care system."

That was as far as I needed to read.

Who wants to know ONE SIDE of an argument? This isn't about winning or losing an argument. It is about how to get the best health care for the most people for the least money.

Those are competing goals, so lets agree first on how to narrow it down?

How can we agree to measure the state of health care, rather than bicker over the existing measures?
The WHO measur might not be perfect but if you watch yourself sliding downward over time, can we at least agree that this is a bad thing?

What counts as the most people? If 90% of our health care costs occur in the last four years of life, when do we stop?

What is the least money? Is it the least amount we can give a minimum amount to health care to everyone or is it the peast amouynt we can spend and still look in the mirror?
Regardless of how it is spent, whether under a liberal or conservative plan, how many dollars can we aggree that we can afford to spend?

Given those goals and that amount of money, let's incorporate the best of what works, and look forward instead of getting bogged down in political dogma - on either side.

At 3/24/2009 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lichtenberg reckons the average new drug approval adds a total of 1.2 million years to the lives of current and future generations."

What? How many generations? Lets double it and save 5.6 million years.

At 3/24/2009 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With few exceptions, that has been a one-way flow.

Not lately.

Mexico is often used by people inthe SW for dental care. South Africa has become the home of the facelift/safari vacation, and India is increasingly used for heart surgery.

Medical tourism is on the rise.

At 3/24/2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system."

OK, so propose a weighted basket of statistics that you think no reasonable person could disagree with.

No doubt you wil preselect a group that puts the US at the top. Then the question is, does it stay there over time? Does it stay static while other countris gain on us?

Simply saying the measure we have is insufficient does NOTHING to help imporve our position.

At 3/24/2009 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape."

So, at one time it was national health care and it was good. Now it is national health care and it is bad.

Therefore national health care is not the discriminator. What went wrong?

At 3/24/2009 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, at one time it was national health care and it was good. Now it is national health care and it is bad.

Therefore national health care is not the discriminator. What went wrong?

Are you asking about your education?

At 3/24/2009 2:24 PM, Blogger KO said...

A list related to outcomes has turned into a discussion on health insurance. That's the big problem.

Uninsured is intentionally confused with untreated in the attempt to nationalize the health system.

The same blindness to outcomes constrains us to a public education system that fails.

At 3/24/2009 3:00 PM, Blogger rbblum said...

Perhaps the health care equation could be favorably and more reasonably altered on an experimental basis by either transforming health insurance companies to a non-profit status or having transferable insurance policies directly attached to practicing health care centers.

Anyone without insurance coverage and using health care facilities will have their income source(s) attached, even if by a 'token' percentage according to ones lot in life.

But to directly involve the US government into any sector or function other than 'governing' is i l l o g i c a l .

At 3/24/2009 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Are you asking about your education?"

No, I'm just pointing out an apparent contradition in using the quote as an wome kind of attack on national health care.

"Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape."

If it was national health care then and national healthcare now, then it isn't clear that being national healthcare has anything to do with its ruinous shape.

I'm not in favor of national health care, I just don't think sloppy argumentation (or personal attacks) does anything to advance the cause of fighting national healthcare in particular, conservative economics in general, and certainly doesn't offer anything positive with regard to health care.

Such responses might leave readers with the impression that conservatives are mean spirited. Not a good way to get them on your side.

By comparison, Macquechoux atleast offered a valuable insight with reasons behind it, and even Extreme Hobo tried to answer the question politely.

At 3/24/2009 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A list related to outcomes has turned into a discussion on health insurance. That's the big problem."

You think the ten items on the list are better indicators to outcomes than whatever WHO uses?

I agree we should not confuse uninsured with untreated. There are probably a lot more uninsured AND untreated than uninsured and treated.

Then there are the uninsured treated and bankrupt.

And also the insured but not treated.

So there are lots of kinds of problems: aside from suggesting that everything is hunky dory, national healthcare is the antichrist, and we should do nothing, how do we better identify and fix the problems?

At 3/24/2009 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want a solution? OK, here's my plan:

The government provides catastrophic care for everyone:

- The government pays 80% of all costs between $35,000 and $100,000 per incident or illness.
- After $100,000 the government pays for everything.
- These price points ($35,000 and $100,000) should be indexed to inflation.
- The catastrophic policies would be paid for with a combination of payroll taxes and a national sales tax, insuring that everyone contributes.

This would have the effect of reducing the cost of private insurance dramatically, since insurers would know the upper limit of their liability. And it would help to insure that no one would lose their homes or life savings to pay for a health related emergency.

Every American gets a HSA:

- Everyone would be allowed to put up to $5000 a year, and up to $2500 for every child, pre-tax income, into a private account (again the contribution level should be indexed to inflation). A minimum contribution of $1000, pre-tax income, a year must be made either by the individual or their employer.
- Accumulated savings from contributions made for children could be transferred, tax free, into their individual accounts at age 18.
- Employers would retain the same health insurance tax advantages they currently get for donations made to employees HSA's.
- HSA's belong to the individual and would follow the employee from job to job, providing mobility.
- The money must be invested in short term government treasuries.
- All withdrawals must be for health related expenses and would be tax free, including premiums on "gap" insurance policies.
- At age 67 people would be allowed to transfer anything in excess of $100,000 to their retirement accounts.
- All monies remaining in HSA's could be passed on to one's heirs tax free.

Current Medicare and Medicaid insurance policies would be replaced with "gap" policies obtained competitively, by the state or federal governments, from the private sector. This would eliminate the massive government bureaucracies, both state and federal, that currently oversee these programs. Private insurers, with an incentive to monitor costs, would police the system more effectively than the current bureaucracy.

This plan would provide incentives for people to take care of their health and monitor health care costs more rigorously. It would also provide them with a means to save for retirement. And since HSA savings must be in short term treasuries, it would help to moderate the impact of market volatility on their retirement savings.

At 3/24/2009 6:13 PM, Blogger KO said...

What are the criteria the WHO uses to rate healthcare? Is it like the happiness rankings where one of the criteria is how environmentally aware the population is?

All I know is, I've had lots of different health insurance providers over the years and the closer they are to a government run system, the less I liked them. i.e the ones like Kaiser where it was maybe half the price also had the longest waits to get an appointment and you never saw the same doctor.

And when I ask people from the UK or Europe how they feel about their healthcare system, they're luke warm about it on average. Tends to be the worse the medical problems they've had the worse their opinion.

Cost? Yes that's a problem. One of the cost savings under a government plan is you don't get to sue for pain and suffering. They don't have to pay for malpractice insurance.

At 3/24/2009 7:40 PM, Blogger Craig Howard said...

"The WHO measur might not be perfect but if you watch yourself sliding downward over time, can we at least agree that this is a bad thing?"

You call that an argument? If you don't accept the WHO's premise that socialized medicine is axiomatically better, than it's not just imperfect; it's wrong.

Try again.

At 3/24/2009 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i taught english to medical students at comenius university in bratislava, slovakia in 1991.

even back then, they were aghast at our flirtation with socialized medicine. they knew better. they were 20-25 years old and they knew better. they grew up knowing what it meant to live with socialized medicine. they were all in med school hoping to overcome the status quo.

At 3/24/2009 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an american living in Mexico. Health care is so cheap here that many visitors come to stay with us JUST to get needed medical and dental care and buy MEDICINE, sometimes 3 or 4% of the US price. And surprise!, health care here is NOT socialized....it is free enterprise. There are too many doctors, so care is cheap.
USA solution? Open the borders to ANY qualified doctors from anywhere, and let them compete with price. AMA be damned.

At 3/24/2009 9:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If the companies voluntarily sell in volume at a discount like many other businesses, how does that equate to the US "paying for it all"?

Pharmaceutical companies agree to sell a fixed amount of medication at a below market cost to, say, Sweden. They make up for the lost profit by charging Americans more. The United States has a law (the name of which escapes me at the moment) which prohibits Sweden from reselling the medication to the American market, to eliminate arbitrage. Thus, Sweden's pharmaceutical consumption is subsidized by the U.S.

If they simply got rid of that law, the subsidy would effectively end.

You think the ten items on the list are better indicators to outcomes than whatever WHO uses?

My father-in-law is a doctor who spent his entire career working for the WHO. Yes, I do think the ten items are better indicators than what the WHO uses. The WHO's data are often incredibly bad (which the WHO acknowledges but uses anyway) and it has a political agenda. They do plenty of good work, but they also collect statistics and don't normalize them. Thus, most of their statistics are apples to oranges comparisons.

For example, the last time I bothered to look at the rankings, the WHO ranked Italy higher than the U.S. mostly because of the unquestioned statistics that Italy provides. If you've ever been in an Italian hospital, you know that can't possibly be true. The WHO puts a lot of weight on "access". Theoretically, socialized medicine gives everyone access. In practice, there's less access than in the United States because of wait lists. Also, the WHO doesn't specify access to what. As long as you can get in to see a GP for a cough, the WHO is satisfied that you have access. But, it doesn't then break it down access to important stuff like dialysis machines and chemotherapy. Socialized medicine generally provides great access to just seeing a GP, but very poor access to care for serious conditions - which is much more important for obvious reasons.

It's not an ideological thing for me. Socialized medicine doesn't work better than even this hot mess we have in America - neither free market nor government provided but a monstrous hybrid. We have a choice to either go more free market or fall prey to a massive reduction in the standard of care for everyone except the very wealthy.

At 3/25/2009 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another point to Anonymous.

even if true, which I doubt, that someone declares bankruptcy every 30 seconds, that's one million bankruptcys per year or one-third of one percent of Americans. In other words, 99.6% of Americans do NOT declare bankruptcy each year from medical costs.

At 3/25/2009 9:04 PM, Blogger marketdoc said...

Before we pronounce judgement on our own health care system, lets take a look at a country like Haiti. People in the U.S. have no idea what a country in REAL NEED of adequate health care looks like. Even those with no health insurance here can walk into any emergency room and receive treatment. Don't want to wait four hours in the ER to be seen? Try going to Haiti.

At 3/25/2009 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They make up for the lost profit by charging Americans more."

Why do the Americans pay it and the Swede won't? Are they smarter than us or just less afraid of dying?

Look even if you think we have th ebest system in the world, it is still the most expensive by far.

Instead of talking about the inadequecies of the other systems we should figure out how to do what they do best.

Like buy drugs cheaper.

At 3/25/2009 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

":My father-in-law is a doctor who spent his entire career working for the WHO. Yes, I do think the ten items are better indicators than what the WHO uses."

If that is the case then the first thing we have to do is agree on stndards of measure.

Get this away from WHO and turn it over to the bureau of standrds.

At 3/25/2009 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In other words, 99.6% of Americans do NOT declare bankruptcy each year from medical costs."

statistical drivel makes us all crazy.

Half the population is under 18. they have no income and are not likely sick: no bankruptcies there.

15% is over 65 and they get some kind of health care. If they are smart they have already divested their assets: no bankrupties there.

The rich are 5% and they don't have a problem.

So the real issue gets concentrated on fewer and fewer people, Mostly working families with not much slack to paly with.

There are a lot fo good and bad comments here. Someone should make a scorecard.

WE can send it eo WHO. maybe they will hire us.

At 3/26/2009 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11) Americans spend $11000 to get a rabies shot (on the local Houston news 2 days ago). Free for Canadians.

At 3/26/2009 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11) Americans spend $11000 to get a rabies shot (on the local Houston news 2 days ago). Free for Canadians.

My private insurance policy, which costs me far less than "free health care" would cost me if I lived in Canada, covers it. So, I guess it's "free" for me too.

And it's "free" for illegals living in the U.S.. Wow, what a country.

At 3/26/2009 2:41 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"You want a solution? OK, here's my plan:

The government provides catastrophic care for everyone

Great idea! Absolutely top notch there sonny as long as YOU pay for it.....

You want to see government provided catastrophic health care in action?

Go to your nearest V.A. hospital...

"11) Americans spend $11000 to get a rabies shot (on the local Houston news 2 days ago). Free for Canadians"...

How long does one have to wait for those shots? Until lockjaw is firmly set in?

At 3/30/2009 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are actually saying the Health care system is good in America? Wow I thought that debate was over!

Since people won't accept statistics like the WHO and would rather quote their father's and personal experience in Italian hospitals, maybe they should volunteer at a ED (oh wait Libertarians don't volunteer, that's right), Google "Remote Area Medical" and see their shift to work here in America, or visit any of the hundreds of free clinics next to any teaching hospital.

I can't believe we are having this debate. The fact that people marry, divorce, go bankrupt, die (18,000 a year) move in with their parents, put off life goals because of health care when it doesn't happen at all in Japan, Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Norway, etc. is a travesty.

At 3/31/2009 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

personal experience in Italian hospitals

My American friend was happy with his experience in an Italian hospital. He didn't need to pay anything because he is insured by the US taxpayer in Europe in emergencies.

There is much American propaganda in the comments about how bad it is outside the USA. That's because American people are generally too poor to travel abroad unlike Europeans and have first hand experience. The USA is the second coming of the Soviet Union. Commie politrucks spreading propaganda and spies looking after citizens everywhere. GWB established the base of communism in the USA and Obama will just fine tune it.

I especially liked the comment of the "English teacher" who can't write English.

Another American friend of mine died of cancer. Before that I recommended a local cancer clinic here in Europe because there is only one clinic in the USA which can provide similar high quality treatment. There are still few top skills in the USA but the average level is significantly below our standards.

An American doctor needs four bureaucrats to fight against insurance companies to collect his money. That huge burden of commie bureaucracy explains the high cost of health care in the USA.

By the way, the health care is better even in Cuba than in the USA.

At 8/03/2009 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The original article (http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/49525427.html) doesn't give any sources, which is worrying since many of the "facts" disagree with many of the other data.

E.g. The article says "Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States..."

However looking at the historical trends (see page 143 of http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/reprint/49/3/138.pdf) shows a 35 year trend with the US breast cancer mortality rate 15% higher than the Canadian rate. The UK mortality rate is higher than the US, but Russia, France, Sweden, and China all have lower mortality rates.

At 8/04/2009 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose a few things should be pointed out:

1) Three of the 10 points refers to US cancer treatment. An area in which the US is commonly known to lead the world. That is good, but apparently it was impossible to find a full 10 areas where the US did well?

2) If one does the actual, I don't know, research? and look up the references, it turns out that they are from suspect sources, or do not actually have anything to do with the subject, or in one case concludes the exact opposite of what the authour claims.

3) The report was produced for the NCPA. It can be found here:


The NCPA is a liberal thinktank, whose board includes representatives from the health insurance and legal medical malpractice firms. Their latest report can be found here:

There are a number of other problems with the report that the average student should be able to spot. Such as the deliberate selection of Canada for comparisons in waiting times. Canada is known to be the only country in the world with longer waiting times.
Thus "second worst in the first world" becomes something good.

Finding the rest of the problems is left as an excercise for the students. (Hint: How relevant is the authors bacground?)

At 8/07/2009 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm...when digging, it appears that many points are only supported by references to partisan reports produced by rightwing thinktanks, and disagrees with all health care and peer-reviewed studies.

At 9/08/2009 6:16 PM, Anonymous youngandhopeless said...

Why is it that no one can agree on the "facts" about this issue? I would really like someone to try and do an unbiased report for all of us who are curious especially us highschoolers who are worrid about the situation.

Why isn't the government calling this health insurance reform because that's all I've heard talked about by the media.

Why do we have money to use on this issue when the schools that are educating our furture doctors are loosing funding? I understand that there are state funds and federal funds and that they're different but why doesn't more federal money go into the public education system?

If someone could answer this with out call ing me names that would be awesome. I'm just a California public school educated individual(though you could probably tell by my bad grammar)who wants to be a doctor and is wondering how this will affect me and my family.

At 10/07/2009 1:33 PM, Anonymous Nancy Harris said...

With various health care reform bills floating around both the House and the Senate, President Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops to get the votes that the bill needs, which is good news for the public option. President Obama continues to rally behind health care reform. I am really concerned that the fiasco of this reform may make Obama a one-term president.

At 10/19/2009 8:20 PM, Anonymous Acai Free Trials said...

So much is made of how great the British and Canadian systems are but these facts dispel those lies.

At 12/04/2009 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fact No. 7: People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed.



oh god

they give degrees nowadays to just about anyone

here's a FACT for your dumb ass:
in Japan the government has total control over health care costs; it sets the prices and payment schemes for everything

the Japanese must be pretty dissatisfied and clamoring for reform huh?

oh, wait, they aren't

because their health care system is really good

it's not without its problems, but ours is a joke in comparison

anyway, keep the propaganda train rolling, dude

P.S. "Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author."

ah, so you're a coward as well. cool. wonder if this will make it past your censorship

-Senator Bob Durham

At 4/11/2011 1:20 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Is this article a joke?

These sound like the sort of facts that cheap newspapers or Fox rely on for their stories.

'I knew a European who died while waiting for treatment' therefore social healthcare isn't as good as the US system.

Why did I even read it?

The US doesn't have a system, it has a ridiculously expensive, money making business that has sold everyone the idea that it's really much better than the systems that people have abroad, therefore we must protect it and make sure nothing changes.

People all over the world have great healthcare yet live in countries with socialized systems. They seem to do just fine without paying anything like as much for the service...plus everyone gets covered. By demonising the alternatives fear keeps you paying more.

Nice work! Advertising and lobbying really can affect opinions.


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