August 10, 2009

Healthcare Makes for a Dog's Life

Justin Katz

The ever-worth-reading Theodore Dalrymple, himself a doctor, compares international — and inter-species — healthcare programs and comes to some insightful conclusions, including this one:

Across the Channel, there is very little that can be said in favor of a health system which is the most ideologically egalitarian in the western world. It supposedly allots health care independently of the ability to pay, and solely on the basis of clinical need; but not only are differences in the health of the rich and poor in Britain among the greatest in the western world, they are as great as they were in 1948, when health care was de facto nationalized precisely to bring about equalization. There are parts of Glasgow that have almost Russian levels of premature male death. Britain’s hospitals have vastly higher rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a measurement of the cleanliness of hospitals) than those of any other European country; and survival rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease are the lowest in the western world, and lower even than among the worst-off Americans.

Even here, though, there is a slight paradox. About three quarters of people die of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and therefore seriously inferior rates of survival ought to affect life expectancy overall. And yet Britons do not have a lower life expectancy than all other Europeans; their life expectancy is very slightly higher than that of Americans, and higher than that of Danes, for example, who might be expected to have a very superior health-care system. Certainly, I would much rather be ill in Denmark than in Britain, whatever the life expectancy statistics.

Perhaps this suggests that there is less at stake in the way health-care systems are organized and funded, at least as far as life expectancy is concerned (not an unimportant measure, after all), than is sometimes supposed. Or perhaps it suggests that the relationship of the health-care system to the actual health of people in societies numbering many millions is so complex that it is difficult to identify factors with any degree of certainty.

Mr. Dalrymple also seconds a point that I've made several times: that the United States' current healthcare is disproportionately expensive, compared with the rest of the world, in part because we're carrying some of the load for those other countries, particularly in continuing innovation. The healthcare "reforms" currently in discussion within the federal government will begin the process of retarding technical development.

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Doctor Ted
1. if the healthcare in the UK is so bad
why do they live longer than the folks
in the USA ?
2. The UK spends 10% of GDP on health care,in the USA we spend 17% and still your folks live longer??
(could it be that liberals live longer
than wing-nuts?)
3.Why are you not calling for the UK to
change to our system?

Posted by: Herm at August 10, 2009 10:16 PM

Don't let yourself be swayed by "factoids" like life expectancy until you know more.

Much is made of the lower infant mortality in Cuba, as compared to the U.S. What that really means is that we have excellent pre-natal care and Cuba has almost none. So, in the U.S. "weak" children survive to birth, in Cuba "weak" children do not survive to live birth. Unhealthy children in Cuba are never given a shot at post-natal care. Which country would you rather live in?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 10, 2009 11:27 PM

Hi Warrington,
Have not had opportunity to resume our discussion on this topic in another blog. Have been entertaining 5 house guests. Time occupied with grandchildren, etc. My uninsured diabetic friend (who works every day, often at two jobs) would undoubtedly receive better care in Cuba.

Also, you'll have to back up your unprovable assertion that "weak" children do not survive in Cuba, etc. Until you do I treat what you say here as a rumor.

Posted by: 0ldTimeLefty at August 11, 2009 9:23 AM

Yeah, I'm sure that Michael Moore regularly flies to Cuba to take advantage of their superior medical care.

And I sure was impressed at the treatment Ted Kennedy has been getting there.

Just like Saudi princes and other well-off foreigners.

Oh wait, they come to the U.S., don't they?

Posted by: Tom W at August 11, 2009 9:51 AM

From Mark Steyn:

"Life expectancy in the European Union 78.7 years; life expectancy in the United States 78.06 years; life expectancy in Albania 77.6 years; life expectancy in Libya, 76.88 years; life expectancy in Bosnia & Herzegovina, 78.17 years. Once you get on top of childhood mortality and basic hygiene, everything else is peripheral – margin-of-error territory."

Posted by: Steve at August 11, 2009 11:21 AM

Tom W,
If you have the money, the U.S. is a great place for medical treatment. If you don't have the money, Cuba is a better place. What a moron you are.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at August 13, 2009 5:27 AM
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