Kristof on Health Care

The always-interesting Nicholas Kristof had some disturbing numbers regarding American health care in his NYT column today:

  • a person without health insurance is 25% more likely to die prematurely
  • a child born today in the United States has a lower life expectancy than a child born today in Costa Rica
  • our infant mortality, maternal mortality, and longevity numbers are the worst in the industrialized world
  • on average, we in the US spend $7000 per person per year for health care, far more than any other nation
  • if our infant mortality rates dropped to the levels of France, Germany, and Italy, this would result in 12,000 fewer babies dying (somehow, the religious right doesn't seem as concerned about these babies as those who might be aborted)
  • the infant mortality rate in the US is three times higher than in the Czech Republic
  • a US woman compared to a European woman is 50% more likely to die in childbirth
  • by 2008, the average Fortune 500 company will spend more on health care for its employees than its entire net income, crippling the international competitiveness of our major companies
  • the head of Safeway, Steve Burd, formed the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform in order to lobby Congress for national health care on behalf of corporations
  • 31% of US health spending goes to management; can you imagine investing in a mutual fund that had a 31% load?
  • in terms of lives saved, the two biggest recent events have not been medical; they are anti-smoking laws and mandated air bags
One argument often floating to explain this is that the US is absorbing a flood of immigration from 3rd world countries; in other words, our population is becoming sicker by immigration of the poor than by a decay of our system. This comparison is wrong because European countries are simultaneously absorbing a flood of immigration themselves.

Some other stats from
  • despite waiting lists in other countries, US citizens have per-capita access to fewer beds, doctors, an equipment such as MRI's
  • although the US has more malpractice suits, awards in the US are 14-36% lower than in other industrialized nations
  • malpractice costs as a percentage of health care spending: 0.5%

And, of course, this from a study by the Commonwealth Fund,
  • "The US ranked last in most areas, including access to health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, efficiency and equity. Americans were also last in terms of whether they had a regular physician."
Have a nice day. Don't get sick. ;)

1 Comment:

  1. Wendi said...
    This is great info to know.

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