Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Health care facts

Mark Perry has a top 10 list of health care facts. Here are a few that stand out:
Fact No. 1: Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.

Fact No. 2:
Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.
This is noteworthy because you will frequently see people cite people cite life span data as proof that American health care is inferior to other countries, since Americans do not live as long as people from many other developed countries.

The problem with this logic is that it is a poor proxy for the quality of a health care system. The quality of a health care system is best measured by how effectively it treats people who are sick, and I would be surprised if Americans, Europeans and Canadians all got sick at the same rate. The better method is to measure survival rates of those who are sick rather than the general population.

This is also significant:
Fact No. 10: Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations.
This isn't because Americans are smarter but because of the system that we operate in in which risk and innovation is rewarded. In many other countries the government purchases medicine and other health care innovations and dictates the price. This acts as a disincentive to innovate. These government are shielded from the negative effects to a large extent because drug companies still innovate and produce for the American market where they can set the price themselves.

In effect they are free riders off the U.S. system, benefiting from U.S.-led innovations while paying minimal cost. If the U.S. health care system is altered to eliminate these incentives then it stands to reason the whole world will suffer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Except if you check the references, you find that they reference studies from right-wing institutes which disagree sharply with every actual health care study done in the areas.

Except where they cite actual health care studies, which on checking, concludes the exact opposite of what the author of the piece claimed!

This is from the comments the the study cited as the only support for point 7 elicited:

"Comparing the U.S. health-care system to other industrialized countries is not for the faint of heart. The deficiencies in the U.S. system are painfully evident in every such study, and this one is no exception," said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center. "We manage to spend more on less efficient health care than any country in the world."

Thats the best support that could be found for the ten made-up facts.