Monday, July 14, 2008

American Healthcare IS the Best

Americans are well aware of the shortcomings of the socialized healthcare systems that exist in Canada and Great Britain. We have heard the horror stories of outmoded techniques, rationing and doctor shortages, and we also know of the number of foreigners who come here for treatment. If they thought about it, Americans would also give credit to the number of miracle drugs, revolutionary techniques and breakthrough, medical devices and instrumentation that have been developed in the free market system of the U.S.A.

Despite our successes, a significant number of Americans do not have healthcare, either through choice or because they cannot afford it. Because of this, every year there are calls for government supplied healthcare or a government insurance program. This year is no different, as all of the Democrat candidates, including Obama, called for some sort of massive, federal, healthcare program.

When I discuss this issue with my liberal friends, and indicate my concern that the government not screw-up healthcare as government has done with almost everything else it touches, a common argument they always throw in my face concerns the studies that have shown that other countries have longer life expectancies than does the United States. The next time we have this discussion, I will be armed with the following two studies. The first one concludes that our shorter life expectancies are from the self-inflicted inability to practice some self discipline in the face of the abundance we also have; the second analysis concludes that some of these international studies of healthcare do not measure healthcare at all – they measure and reward the degree of socialism found in a particular country.

Why their life expectancy is shrinking
FROMA HARROP June 29, 2008 Providence Journal (Excerpt)

“NEWS THAT LIFE expectancy among some American women has fallen earned startled headlines, as well it should. In this country, life expectancy is something that’s supposed to go up. It took a big scourge, such as the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, to depress it briefly.

But a study published in the online journal PLoS finds that in about 1,000 U.S. counties, women’s life expectancies are shorter than in the early 1980s. During this time, no deadly virus rampaged through the female population. And the bristling arsenal of new medical treatments continued to grow.

The chief cause was something for which there is no vaccine: obesity, smoking and other forms of self-abuse. The victim and victimizer are one and the same — or so it appeared to me.

The counties listed are mostly in Appalachia, which includes part of the South, Texas, and the lower Midwest, say researchers at the University of Washington and the Harvard School of Public Health. And although the shorter lives weren’t limited to one race or ethnic background (94-percent white Washington County, in Maine, was on the list), the places affected tended to have higher proportions of African-Americans.

Poor health habits are hurting babies, as well. Shocked officials at the Mississippi Department of Health report that their infant-mortality rate — which had been dragged down to 9.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 — soared in 2005 to 11.4 deaths. It sounds counter-intuitive, but fetuses growing in grossly overweight mothers are often undernourished. Obesity can bring on hypertension and diabetes, which starve the baby of nutrients.” Providence Journal

How surveys twist rankings on health care

GLEN WHITMAN June 11, 2008 Providence Journal (Excerpt)

“BARACK OBAMA and many in the Democratic Party look to Europe for inspiration for reforming America’s healthcare. Back in 2003, Mr. Obama said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health-care program,” thereby endorsing the state-controlled health systems of countries such as Norway and Britain — and endorsing ideology over quality.

According to the World Health Organization, Mr. Obama was correct: In its highly influential World Health Report, America scores well below the vast majority of Western European countries — and even below the likes of Morocco and Costa Rica in one index. This report is frequently cited by Democratic reformers wanting to replace the U.S. market system with something a little more Continental. But an examination of the two indices in the WHO report tells us more about the ideology of the authors than the quality of American health care.

Michael Moore made great sport in his movie Sicko of pointing out that the WHO ranked the United States a lowly 37th in the world, considerably below top-10 France and Canada (although the United States is 15th in the other index). But, much like Mr. Moore himself, the rankings are far from impartial.

One of the five factors in the calculations is “Financial Fairness.” This favors systems that charge richer people a higher rate of health tax, irrespective of how much, or little, health service they use. Colombia comes out on top. This measure has nothing to do with the quality of health care, yet it counts for a quarter of the weighting.

The WHO claims that its rankings are a tool for comparing different means of financing health-care systems, yet this tool inherently favors taxpayer-funded systems and gives the rankings a bias that renders comparison pointless. As a result of this bias, the United States languishes in lowly 54th place on “Financial Fairness,” largely explaining its poor overall position.” Providence Journal


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