Only area where United States is a health care leader is in cost per capita
July 2, 2009
To the Editor:
Where does William Hamilton find the world’s best medical-care system (Central View, “obamaCare: Canadians aren’t for it”)? Maybe he thinks we all have Veterans Administration coverage.
The only place the United States ranks at the top in health care is in the amount we spend per capita. The Canadian system is inferior to some systems but not ours. When comparing the health results of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, we have the shortest life expectancy, the highest infant mortality rate and pay more than twice per capita than five of the countries. The other two countries pay slightly higher than half of what we pay. And in all these countries, everyone is covered. A local woman who lived in Germany working as a dish washer had good coverage.
Other things to consider in these countries are: Pre-existing conditions are not an issue, people are not dropped because they get sick, and bankruptcy does not happen because of medical expense. In our country, administration consumes about 31 percent of medical spending, which is as much as six times that of Western European nations. If we cut our bureaucratic costs we would save enough to cover the uninsured and eliminate co-pays and deductibles for all Americans.
The waits for elective surgery in Canada are longer than ours, and they are working on improving that. The New England Journal of Medicine did a study about knee replacements and found the satisfaction rates even after the waits were very similar. They tried to find patients in Canada who needed knee replacements and didn’t have them but couldn’t find any to compare to the people who couldn’t have them here, wait or no wait.
Another concern is rationing of medical care. The numbers don’t seem to support that fear because people in those countries live longer than we do. It is estimated that more than 18,000 people die per year in the United States because of the lack of health care. Now that is a severe form of rationing.
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The people I know without insurance don’t have it because they have pre-existing conditions or don’t earn enough to pay the premiums. I haven’t seen any of them getting first class care that Hamilton talks about. Obama’s plan is nowhere near a good plan. It is closer to the failed Massachusetts plan.
We need a real free market private system instead of the quasi-free market we have now. To cut the costs it would be publicly funded. Our great country can do much better than we are doing. Our health is not for profit.