Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something Right About Our Medical System

This article, from the Atlantic Monthly, courtesy of my brother-in-law. I would have died if I were a New Zealander.

1 comment:

Deane said...

The USA already has a substantially socialized medical system (nearly half of all payments are made by taxpayers). Even so, our residual freedom is still higher than any other major industrialized nation. Cancer survival rates here are much higher than anywhere else in the world. The same with pneumonia, heart disease, and AIDS.

More healthcare technology is invented and produced here than anywhere else. 18 of the last 25 Nobel prize winners in medicine were either US citizens or working here. Americans played a key role in 80% of the most important medical advances in the last 30 years ("important" determined by a 2001 survey of physicians). Even companies and researchers who develop treatments in other countries come here to produce and market them.

Don't be fooled by popularized red herring statistics such as life expectancy. If you correct for just homicides and accidents (ignoring poverty, obesity, tobacco and drug use, etc), the USA has the highest life expectancy in the world. As for infant mortality--high-risk, very low birth-weight infants are counted in US statistics, but ignored by many other Western countries.

That sort of sneaky lying is much like government poverty and "income gap" statistics. They neglect to deduct taxes paid, which artificially inflates the income of the more affluent, and they neglect to include welfare payments to the so-called poor, which artificially deflates their income. In New York City, for instance, the actual income difference between a family of 4 earning $100,000 per year and a family of 4 feeding totally at the public trough would be perhaps $20,000 total. But the government reports that as a $100,000 gap.

Anyway, back to medicine. Each country with socialized medicine has a somewhat different system from each of the others. Their quality and availability of service improves as the degree of socialization diminishes. The rest of the world free-rides on the hard work and technological progress of the heroic researchers and entrepreneurs in the least socialized major medical system--ours.

Sis, I'm glad you're living here!