My ultra-Right-Wing brother-in-law has a blog where I occasionally post replies to his posts. I figured that it wasn’t a bad idea to get them posted over here as well. The following was my reply to his comments on why we shouldn’t go for a government mandated health care system. When I offered to provide some statistics on how our system was the worst in cost/benefit ratio in the industrialized world, he talked about how meaningless those numbers would be and thus I felt compelled to provide some.
Here’s the reply…
Well, cost per person is easy. I think we all agree that the average person in the US pays one of the highest costs for medical care in the world. (If not, those numbers are easy to get)
Benefit is fairly easy. There are two numbers that are typically used; Average Lifespan and Infant Mortality.
Average Lifespan has the advantage of showing the effect of a whole life of medical factors but has the downside of also showing the health costs of poverty and war. (but less than you’d think since Israel which hasn’t had a lot of years without war has an average lifespan about a year and a half longer than the US). Still, it’s a good measure even with those factors when you’re comparing countries inside similar groups of countries (say, Western Industrials with each other or Sub-Saharan African with each other)
So where is the US? This bastion of "We’ve got the best healthcare system in the world"?
Number 1 is Andorra. (Yes, Andorra) with a lifespan of 83.51 years.
Japan is 6th
Sweden is 7th
Canada (those evil socialized medicine types 100 miles away from us here in Seattle) are 12th and average just over 80.
Evil France? – 16th best
Those Brits? – The UK is 38th.
How about us? We’re number 47. (Let’s hear that cheer. We’re number 47. We’re number 47. We’re number 47.) Bosnia is actually higher than we are…
OK. There are admitted flaws in using life expectancy. (I admitted them myself) Let’s look at infant mortality. This is considered the default number for measuring health since most societies do their best to provide good health care to pregnant women and newborn infants no matter what.
The best place to be born is Singapore. They have only 2.29 deaths per 1,000 births.
Those Volvo-driving Socialists in Sweden come in 2nd at 2.76.
Japan is 4th. (Another top 10 for the Japanese!)
Germany is 11th. (Guess you have a better chance of being born if your grandparents were in the Axis than the US)
Canada is 23rd.
The UK is down at 28th – not great…
Where are we?
Why, we’re 42nd best. Below Cuba. Below Italy. Below Slovenia.
We have an infant mortality of 6.43. That’s two and a half times as many dead babies as Sweden.
Now. If you think a fabulously wealthy nation with the best medical technology in history should be content paying the most of any nation and having the 42nd (or 47th) best healthcare then we disagree on the point of a society…
But, hey, while our health care system is laughed at, our health insurance company executive compensation packages are the envy of the world.
(Oh, and in case you think I used some evil, leftist, doctored, socialist numbers – All of these are from the CIA’s annual World Fact Book. Feel free to look it up at www.cia.gov)