Monday, August 17, 2009

Health "Care": The US Continues to Lag Behind

While the White House continues to run lukewarm on even a watered down public option for health care, it might be useful to remind our readers as to how poor our health "care" really is, and how our quality of life continues to suffer as a result. About a couple years ago, I ran into this interesting graphic:
At the time, I said:
Health care spending in the US itself appears to be an outlier on the above graph. US life expectancy is about the same as that of Portugal (about smack dab in the middle of the distribution). When looking at the combination of health care spending and life expectancy variables, the US truly stands out - and in this case not in a good way. When it comes to health care, Americans are not getting much bang for their bucks.
Earlier this year, I made mention of another study showing that US residents lag behind practically every other developed nation on practically any quality of life variable imaginable: lifespan, obesity, infant mortality, etc. Again, I would invite you to look at the disconnect between our health care expenditures and our actual overall health. Those medical expenses, assuming the likelihood that the status quo is maintained, are only going to go up. Someone will profit while fewer and fewer of us get the health care we deserve.

To further drive the point home, let's look at what Bernard Chazelle shared with his readers at ATF a few days ago:

Chazelle goes on to say:
The US spends at least twice as much per person on health care as any other country on earth.

In the 70s, American social scientists introduced the concept of "amenable mortality," which tallies "the number of deaths from certain causes before age 75 that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care."

In a study of 19 countries, including the US, 14 Western European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, the US ranks dead last.

According to the authors, if the U.S. had been able reduce amenable mortality to the average rate achieved by the three top-performing countries, there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths annually by the end of the study period.

No doubt those hard-working doctors, insurers, hospital administrators, and drug manufacturers deserve their hard-earned pennies.
Amazingly enough, this is yet another health indicator in which the US and Portugal are strikingly similar, and yet as I have previously noted, Portuguese residents spend only a fraction of what US residents spend on health care. To make a long story short, we're getting ripped off, and there is precious little concern from the powers that be in the White House or Congress (from either of the two parties that are acceptable to the CEO class). Contrary to some, I don't think it's so much a lack of "spine" or "intestinal fortitude" on the part of the Democrats (who are nominally the ones who are supposed to be championing major health care reform). Rather, most Democrats, including the bulk of those who can legitimately lay some claim to being "progressive" are still stuck in the 1980s and 1990s when the neoliberal form of capitalism advanced by such folks as Friedman, Sachs, etc., with its "privatize or perish" mentality, was going to save the world. If you're not getting my drift, what I'm saying is that the vast majority of those in positions of political power in the US cannot or will not take off their ideological blinders. In the meantime, CEOs in the insurance and pharmaceuticals will keep on making a killing - literally.

No comments:

Post a Comment