Tuesday, December 3, 2013


This is not about the Affordable Health Care Act (AKA Obamacare) or to engage in any political debate. This is about facts, you might still remember what that is about, telling the truth.

Many like to say that the United States has the best health care system in the world.  The problem is we don’t.  Not even close.  In fact, the only way you can get the best health care in the world, is if you are willing and able to pay for it.

The U.S. has to pay twice the amount per capita as the next most costly system in the world (Norway’s), and we still do not cover millions of our citizens. A Harvard Medical School study states that at least 45,000 Americans die each year from treatable diseases because they cannot afford to get treatment.

That equals 5 Americans that die every hour, of every day, of every year because of a preventable illness that was not taken care of due to lack of access and means.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  How can somebody have life and happiness, without their health? 

The US spends significantly more per person on health care than others, but has lower life expectancy rates than its peers. That's the message from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Health at a Glance 2013 report (CLICK HERE), which highlights the state of health in its 34 member countries. The report runs hundreds of pages long, detailing the most recent data in key areas of health and countries' health systems. One section looks into life expectancy gains over the past few decades, and, for many Americans, it makes for a worrying read.

What's embarrassing is that even though we live in a country where over 40 million people are uninsured, we pay more for health care than any other nation, and yet pathetically rank 26th in life expectancy, behind Slovenia

As supporters and opponents of the Affordable Care Act debate the best way to overhaul a clearly broken health care system, it's perhaps helpful to put American medicine in a global perspective.

The U.S. may spend the most on health care but this is not translating in high life expectancy. The U.S. also lags in comparison to its peers in providing universal health care. (Credit: OECD Health Statistics 2013)

To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, the American health care system has a lot of 'splainin' to do.So what can the U.S. learn from the many countries that get more bang for their health care buck? Unsurprisingly, there is no one formula for success when it comes to efficient medical care.

The systems that rank highly are as diverse as the nations to which they belong. The unifying factor seems to be tight government control over a universal system, which may take many shapes and forms, a fact evident in the top-three most efficient health care systems in the world: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.

Our biggest problem is that aspects of our culture are so backward. We’ll gladly spend all of the money, ever on national defense, to the point where the Pentagon can waste billions but still get far more funding than any other area of the government.

Although life expectancy in the United States has been growing in the last several decades, it has done so more slowly than other countries due to gaps in health insurance, poor living conditions, and poor health behaviors, according to a report released Wednesday from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD'S Report (Click Here) shows that life expectancy in the United States increased by about eight years since 1970, to 78.7 years in 2011. But life expectancy grew more rapidly in other OECD countries, which saw averages of 10-year gains since 1970. Now, the United States is more than a year below the OECD average life expectancy of 80.1 years.

Remember, in our political arena, if you support military funding, you’re a patriot. If you want more of that money to go toward health care, you’re a dirty socialist.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s money toward the same thing, protecting your population. For some reason, protecting them from external threats is important, but protecting their health is not.

A more detailed look shows that the US falls behind the rest of the world in every category:

1. Americans pay three times more for health care:

United States = $4,178
Switzerland = $2,794
Germany =$2,424
Canada =$2,312
Norway = $2,215
Austria = $2,043
France =$2,077
Japan = $1,822
Italy =$1,783
Sweden =$1,746
Finland= $1,502

2. But Americans get worse care. The US is

- 45th in Infant Mortality

- 14th in Heart Attack Survival, is behind Japan, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Canada, Denmark and Germany,

- 15th in mortality from preventable diseases behind, France, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, and Denmark.

- Worst of G6 countries for supplying Urgent care,

- Worst in medical errors.

- Behind France in Lung, Colon and Breast cancer survival. And the French pay half as much for their care.

- 5th in timely care

3. Insurance Costs Go To Overhead. Every year, Health insurance Companies are spending less and less on claims and more overhead. The amount insurance companies spend on medical claims has decreased by 28%. While profits for companies like United Health Care rose by 11%.

Percentage of premiums spent on claims:

1993: 95%
2006: 80%
2008: 67%

Some states were even worse:

North Dakota: 55%
WY, MA:       60%
KY,ME,MN,SD:  65%

Of Course our most efficient medical system in the United States is the Government operated Medicare Health Care Program of which 97.9% of premiums were spent covering claims and a tiny 2.1% for overhead in operating Medicare.

When confused people scream out "I don't want government-run health care. I don't want socialized medicine. And don't touch my Medicare", it is clear that they have no clue what they are talking about.

It's not about senior citizens. It's about anyone who doesn't think about what they're being told and can be easily manipulated. That includes many people younger than myself.

It's about the fear tactics that worked so well for the past eight years because so many people tend to believe what they're told rather than thinking it out for themselves.
The point is that our private system of health care in the United States sucks. Change it or live with it, but understand that the current system rips us all off.