>29th in Infant Mortality, #1 in Your Heart

>My tirade continues.

Ok, look, just to reiterate, to compare the United States with Poland is like comparing apples and bowling balls. Nothing wrong with Poland; I’m sure the people there are wonderful. I would love to visit sometime. But, Poland is Poland and the United States is, well, like no other country on the planet. Stop making asinine comparisons.

I dove deeper into these statistics. I want to map the most recent data. I found some stuff so a map is forthcoming. But I found some real troubling info.

First, a national goal of a 4.5 IMR is probably not doable. The goal is admirable, but consider what has to happen. The 4.5 IMR represents the sum total of all states in the United States. That has to include states with excellent health care and a relatively homogenous population, i.e. Maine. Also, we have to consider states like Mississippi and Alabama that fall way short of Maine in terms of health care and population homogeniety.

Secondly, we have to ask ourselves, Is our national health care system really that bad? We have the best trained doctors. We have the most sophisticated dianostic equipment. We have the best teaching schools and teaching hospitals. There must be something else going on for our “national” IMR to be so “bad”. There is something going on.

Your assignment is to first read these news releases from a variety of state health departments:

Here is a table from the Kaiser Family Foundation that provides some details, and gives away where I am going with my diatribe.

Questions:

  1. Are all ethnic groups equal when it comes to IMR?
  2. Which ethnic group has the lowest IMR?
  3. Which ethnic group(s) have the highest IMR?
  4. Does any state have an ethnic group with an IMR close to 4.5?

Obviously, if you answer these questions, a pattern should emerge. If you are white, your baby has a better chance of living to his/her/its first birthday. If you are not white, then the chances of your baby living to his/her/its first birthday decrease by at least half.

Really, though, everyone is pretty lucky to live in the United States. Chances are good that your baby will see its first birthday, anyway. But babies born underweight, premies, general birth complications, anything that makes the first few days of life difficult, are going to fare better if they are white than if they are not.

It isn’t because white babies are hardier or more robust – but they may be. There are lots of mitigating factors:

  1. Whites tend to be less poor
  2. Whites tend to have better access to health care
  3. Non-whites tend to be poorer
  4. Non-whites have less access to health care
  5. Poor tend to lead unhealthier lives; smoke, drink, worse diets, don’t see their doctor regularly.

If we look at really successful states, like Maine, we can see a couple things. People are pretty educated. The population is relatively small. Few minorities live in Maine. And 85% of the population have access to health insurance or are covered by some type of plan. This rate is one of the highest in the nation.

If we, and by we I mean our government, want to reduce our IMR, then we have to address the IMR of our minority populations; we have to address the health care of babies born to minorities. This is where we will see the greatest impact in reducing our national IMR.

Can anyone say National Health Care coverage? Socialized medicine?

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