Joe Conason writes a decent article compared to many I have read regarding the comparison of U.S. health care concerns versus health care concerns abroad.
As the article states, there is no argument that a “gross” discrepancy exists in the value of U.S. health care and the value we receive for that health care. At least I do not know enough to argue the point. I do wonder, though, which OECD members have a health care system that is as robust and mature as ours, that invests in research and development as much as the U.S. does, and that produces as much medical scholarship as we do.
Apparently, quoting the Salon article, the study found that the United States ranks poorly among OECD countries on measures of life expectancy, infant mortality and reductions in “amenable mortality,” meaning deaths “from certain causes that should not occur in the presence of timely and effective healthcare.” There is not doubt on these points that some health care concerns could be better in the United States. But why should this be? Lets consider the members, first:
Australia – Austria – Belgium – Canada – the Czech Republic – Denmark – Finland – France Germany – Greece – Hungary – Iceland – Ireland – Italy – Japan – South Korea – Luxembourg – the Netherlands – New Zealand – Norway – Poland – Portugal – the Slovak Republic – Spain Sweden – Switzerland – and the United Kingdom
By in large, most of these countries in the list are European countries. Not just any European countries, but the power houses, the most mature – and also the most homogenous, the most educated, and the most wealthy. Noted exceptions to this is South Korea and Japan, obviously not European, though they also qualify as being highly educated and homogenous.
The United States, as happens frequently, then gets compared to countries of a smaller size, both in total area and poopulation, that is not anywhere close to having a population of the same historic, genetic, linguistic, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds – meaning we are anything but homogenous. Though educated, we are not the most highly educated people in the world, regardless of what we would like to think. Furthermore, comparisons like this lump all 50 states into the same pot, thereby diminishing those states that are doing things well, and hiding those states that really need help.
Additionally, many of those countries listed, if not all, have rules about involvement of pharmaceutical companies in the media, lobbying doctors and politicians, and spending unnecesary money on marketing and publicity. Secondly, in most of these countries, the health care workers are state employees. In other words, in the United States we tend to allow free market competition to drive our health care system whereas abroad the governments place strict controls on how much doctors can make, and the cost of medicines and procedures. How many of our doctors would be willing to draw a state salary instead of a quasi-free market salary? Lastly, in many of those countries, and this could actually work in the U.S., insurance involves not only the government, but the individual AND the employer. All contribute to the health care system costs.
Talking all of this into consideration, I can only imagine that anyone who supports universal health care AND is using the above countries as examples can only support SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. That is what I just describe above. All of those countries utilize SOCIALIZED MEDICINE in some form or fashion. And this makes drug companies and health care companies in the United States extremely fearful, as socialized medicine hits their bottom line.
I’m a Cynic. I wonder how many people would still go into health care if they knew they would become a state employee, just like the state trooper or the Fish & Wildlife Officer, an his/her salary would be dictated by the government? I wonder what would happen to the real cost of drugs if pharmaceutical companies were restricted from advertising.
How would the whole calculus of our medical economy change in light of a new paradigm?