Profit Is A Barrier: US Comes Last In Healthcare

Life_expectancy_vs_healthcare_spending

Especially if you’re under 50. (NY Times)

Car accidents, gun violence and drug overdoses were major contributors to years of life lost by Americans before age 50.

The rate of firearm homicides was 20 times higher in the United States than in the other countries, according to the report, which cited a 2011 study of 23 countries. And though suicide rates were lower in the United States, firearm suicide rates were six times higher.

Sixty-nine percent of all American homicide deaths in 2007 involved firearms, compared with an average of 26 percent in other countries, the study said. “The bottom line is that we are not preventing damaging health behaviors,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer and sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was on the panel. “You can blame that on public health officials, or on the health care system. No one understands where responsibility lies.”

Panelists were surprised at just how consistently Americans ended up at the bottom of the rankings. The United States had the second-highest death rate from the most common form of heart disease, the kind that causes heart attacks, and the second-highest death rate from lung disease, a legacy of high smoking rates in past decades. American adults also have the highest diabetes rates.

Youths fared no better. The United States has the highest infant mortality rate among these countries, and its young people have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and deaths from car crashes. Americans lose more years of life before age 50 to alcohol and drug abuse than people in any of the other countries.

Americans also had the lowest probability over all of surviving to the age of 50. The report’s second chapter details health indicators for youths where the United States ranks near or at the bottom. There are so many that the list takes up four pages. Chronic diseases, including heart disease, also played a role for people under 50.

“We expected to see some bad news and some good news,” Dr. Woolf said. “But the U.S. ranked near and at the bottom in almost every heath indicator. That stunned us.”

For me the underlying reason that the US pays more but gets less healthcare is obvious. As medical science has advanced since the 1950’s, other first-world nations with their “socialist” healthcare systems have succeeded in bringing those advances to every demographic and every age bracket. In the US by contrast, only those who can afford it have benefitted.

Obamacare will have some marginal effect on this but not as much as Democrats think – the only real answer is to entirely remove the question of “how will you pay?” from doctor’s surgeries and hospitals. That would mean a vast contraction in the hugely profitable health insurance industry, moving entirely to non-profit hospitals and clinics and a hefty reduction in doctor’s potential earnings, as well as removing one of the privileges of being old and white – so there’s going to be a lot of resistance, so much so that it may be impossible. It’s still worth trying. As long as the U.S. does not have universal healthcare it will continue to restrict the pursuit of life, happiness and liberty for all.

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