The Norman Transcript

Columns

October 9, 2012

Dismal care outcomes, causes and cures

NORMAN — A claim commonly made from time to time by politicians of major political parties, current health system apologists and defenders, is that, “America has the best health care in the world.” This boastful claim may be an excellent example of national pride and spirit. However, it is totally unsupported by our country’s demographic and health care outcome statistics and by our medical per capita cost when compared to those of other world countries.

Quite the contrary — as evidenced by the commonly used health outcome statistics of life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality and healthy life expectancy — we have one of the worst health care outcomes of all modern countries and even worse than those of some developing countries. Our medical cost per capita is also the largest in the world. 

Of these five health system quality measures, let us first look at life expectancy. The CIA 2012 WorldFact Book ranks the U.S. as 50th in descending high to low life expectancy, among 221 reporting countries and territories. On average, the citizens of 11 countries live more than three years longer, and the citizens in six nations live on average more than four years longer than U.S. citizens. In an additional 12th country of Canada, the citizens under their oft-labeled “socialist” medical system on average live a tiny fraction just short of three or 2.99 years longer than U.S. citizens.

Let’s take a look at three other health system quality measures.

The World Health Organization reports comparative health statistics for 180 to over 190 countries and territories. In their most recent statistics available, WHO ranks the U.S. as 29th in descending high to low healthy life expectancy, which is defined as one’s average expected active years of life spent without major health problems. The U.S. is ranked 49th in ascending low to high in infant mortality.

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