Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Best in the World"?

So they keep harping on how the United States has the "Best health care system in the world." So where is the data to back up that assertion?

The only thing I have heard is some anecdotal evidence of some people from other countries coming here to have medical procedures done that they can't get at home, at least not in a timely manner. So is that it? Those few, usually wealthy, people?

What about the rest of us? What about the almost fifty million United States citizens who don't have insurance, thus dragging down the system for the rest of us. Those who don't have insurance tend to put treatment off until they have to go to the emergency room. Thus you have up to a five-hour wait, while you're bleeding, in pain, etc. You don't have those waits in the civilized countries that have real health care. So the five-hour ER waits make this the "best in the world"?

What about access to doctors? The civilized countries that have complete health care for all have more doctors per thousand people. I guess if they don't have to worry about maximizing their earning power via gouging insurance companies for fees, then they don't have to gravitate to expensive specialties. So, maybe that's why they call ours the "best in the world:" more expensive specialists. So they might have a few more weeks to wait for specialized treatment in England or Canada. Is that worse than the extra five hour ER waits here?

They don't have those long waits for treatment, surgery, etc. in France, Germany, Italy, Japan. They have a different system, but they still spend half the money on health care that we do, and they live longer.

That brings up the next question: Is it death rates? Our death rates are higher at every age group. That means we have shorter life spans than the other civilized countries that have universal health care. Does dying earlier make ours the "best in the world"?

They spend half what we spend on health care, yet they have coverage for everyone, and longer life spans. Ours is the most expensive health care in the world. Does that inefficiency make ours the "best in the world"?

It's the most inefficient in the world, that we can say with confidence. When will we catch up?

I want to be healthier.

Let's see what we can learn from the rest of the world.


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