Tuesday, September 1, 2009

old man

It is said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978) politician and founding member of ada

in response to some of yesterday's comments I thought I'd share some stats today on how health care in the u.s. compares to other countries. seems that as we actually move closer to doing something about fixing our ailing health care system, there is a lot more of noise being raised from critics of health reform.

some fringe groups go so far to liken obama to hitler, and if that's not enough, these folk even take such pride in their hateful rants that they get upset when they aren't given credit for said hatefulness (curious? check out this). much of the time, we simply hear that yes there may be some problems with the health care system in america, but every system is flawed - we still have the best health care and the best doctors in the world.

I don't know which is worse - the lunatic fringe or the mamby-pamby masses. personally, I believe both contingents are being duped and are dangerous obstacles to getting what needs to get done done!

okay, let us look at some stats.

in 2000 the world health organization (WHO) conducted its first ever analysis of the health care systems of its 191 member countries. unfortunately because of the enormity and complexity of the task, this may have been the first and last time the organization performs such an analysis. the WHO's assessment was based on five indicators: overall level of population health; health inequalities (or disparities) within the population; overall level of health system responsiveness (a combination of patient satisfaction and how well the system acts); distribution of responsiveness within the population (how well people of varying economic status find that they are served by the health system); and the distribution of the health system’s financial burden within the population (who pays the costs).

how did the u.s. fare? unfortunately, not very well. in spite of spending more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country in the world, the u.s ranked 37 in terms of its overall performance. here's the list of top 50 countries.

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America
38 Slovenia
39 Cuba
40 Brunei
41 New Zealand
42 Bahrain
43 Croatia
44 Qatar
45 Kuwait
46 Barbados
47 Thailand
48 Czech Republic
49 Malaysia
50 Poland

for those who like to see the nitty gritty you can download the complete report here.

okay, now let's consider some basic health indicators:

in terms of life expectancy, according to the world fact book the u.s. ranks 50th among 228 countries with an average life expectancy at birth in the u.s. of 78.11 years. france, which has the best rated health care system comes in 9th (80.98 years) - and the country with the longest life expectancy is the tiny nation of macau (84.36 years)

another important indicator is the infant mortality rate (imr) - in other words, the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year. out of 224 countries ranked by the world fact book, 44 countries have fewer infant deaths than the u.s. the country with the best infant mortality rate is singapore (2.31 deaths/1000); the u.s. rate is 6.26/1000. and how did france do- quite well, france came in with the 8th best imr 3.33/1000.

another area to consider with respect to a country's h.c. system is the financial burden on it's people. I already mentioned that the u.s. spends more on health care than any other country in the world. furthermore, according recent research the u.s has an alarmingly high rate of medical bankruptcies, and contrary to what one might expect three-quarters of the people pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually have insurance.

yikes, what was it that hubert humphrey said about the moral test of a country? I don't know what you think, but it doesn't seem as if we are passing this test.

radio folk master jim bloom played this version of neil young's classic on his streaming folk program. I just loved it and have to share it - so here goes, the wailin' jennys, a folk trio from winnipeg, singing fellow countryman neil's heart wrenching/warming tune old man. the wailin' website promises that they are adding new shows all the time so I'm crossing my fingers they will add a gig in the cleveland area. who knows maybe they'll be coming to a venue near you - if they don't come to cleveland, I may have to take a road trip to check them out!

photo: a new friend outside american visionary art museum, baltimore july 2009


Candie Bracci said...

That was really interestingto read.

Angella Lister said...

thanks for this thoughtful post, mouse. appart from the insurance companies, i think much of the opposition is coming from individuals who have adequate health care OR who have never had their coverage tested by an illness. the tenor of the debate has been really disturbing, but i think we will reform health care in america nevertheless. eternal optimist over here!

tony said...

Well Said!
Viewed from Britain,we find it amazing all the protest.Reform must happen for You .You will never get a better chance than now.

ArtSparker said...

Factcheck.org has a debunking of the cant and bloviation about the Health Care Resolution up right now.

mum said...

I can only wish you good luck on this one. The level of irrationality in the debate sounds really frightening viewed from over here.

best from Graulhet.

Anonymous said...

kimy, I read snippets of this report when it first came out and there wre a lot more things WHO should have touched on but didn't. It seemed it was just more fuel for an already out of controlle fire. And forcing the public into something they can't possibly afford, is unconstitutional...

K. said...

We're already forced into a health care system that we can't afford. The CBO estimates that -- without reform -- health care will absorb 35% of the economy by 2040. It's already 16%, up from 8% in 1980. The whole point of health care reform is to put the brakes on this train.

Steve said...

Bravo! Isn't it bizarre that Costa Rica and Dominica have better health care than we do?? (And how weird that New Zealand's is WORSE!)

These anti-health reform people are either easily manipulated or idealogues. Larouche, for God's sake! What a nightmare!

e said...

Your piece raises many good points...I think we owe it to our citizens to try and reform this system.

I have insurance and still must pay ridiculous amounts out of pocket...

Coffee Messiah said...

The haves, will never want the have nots to be equal in any way ; (

I saw this on Crroks And Liars this am:


Pretty simple really, especially when he compares to having a fire dept etc ; )

Coffee Messiah said...

er, sorry: Crooks And Liars

Megan said...

I like facts. Thanks, Kim!

Ronda Laveen said...

I just don't understand all of the hoopla. EVERYTHING can be improved upon, for heaven's sake, and our hc system needs over hauling. Where is all this fear being generated from?

Meri said...

Great information, Kim, though those that get their "facts" only from conservative talk radio or Fox News will never find it.

Merle Sneed said...

Kim, it is too bad that we cannot get past holding on to "ours", so that we all can have a better system.

Baino said...

I dunno something screwy about these indicators or at least the results although ours could be skewed by waiting lists and the appalling health of our indigenous population. I'm surprised we're so low on the list frankly. You're right about the lunatic fringe though.

Anonymous said...

@ coffee messiah; C.M. very interesting video! And you were right about the "fire insurance"-LOL! Great analogy :)

California Girl said...

Important info and it cannot be repeated enough. The majority of crap flying around is scare tactics and voodoo economics, to quote Bush I.

Talk is now of Obama retreating from the public option and I am holding my breath. Why bother? Some say any reform is better than none but I think we need to challenge insurance companies to do better. They have no incentive to do better unless it is a choice of "deliver the goods or we'll go elsewhere."