Christopher Wanjek writes for LiveScience an article that is actually realistic about American healthcare.
It's pretty simple, we pay the most, and we get the least. We have the worst healthcare, for the money, in the world, and we rank about 37th in the world overall.
Anyone thinking that America has the best health system is delusional, and hopefully they can get treatment for that in Canada. This is a country in which African Americans men in Harlem are less likely to reach the age of 65 than men in Bangladesh, as relayed in an eye-opening study published in the New England Journal of Medicine over a decade ago.
We don't do our children any service, either.
America ranks first in child gun violence and first among industrialized nations in preschool children not immunized. Children under age 15 are 12 times more likely to die from gunfire, 16 times more likely to be murdered by a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and 9 times more likely to be killed in a firearm accident compared to 25 other industrialized nations combined. These sobering facts come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States' health care system ranked 37th on a list of 191 systems compiled by the World Health Organization in 2000. So last week's JAMA article should come as no surprise. We spend more money per person on health care than any other country, yet we are consistently ranked rock bottom for most health indicators when compared to other wealthy nations.
Something is clearly wrong, and it is likely our emphasis on treatment instead of prevention. The whole system is whacked. Insurance companies will cover the cost of a diabetic's amputation, yet they usually won't pay for nutritional counseling that could prevent or minimize the negative health effects of diabetes.
Complicating issues is the fact that the United States has three distinct populations: the wealthy, a somewhat insured middle-class, and the poor. The poor are not just from the much-discussed inner city. Large tracts of the United States—from Native American reservations and the Appalachian Mountains to rural and remote regions of the South—have a health care infrastructure no better than many developing nations in Africa and Central America.
What's wrong is a lack of a single-payer system combined with the poor health status of the red states. Healthcare in red states is the worst in the country. Take for instance these news stories on infant mortality in the US being the 2nd worst in the industrialized world.
Where in this country do you think the problem is? Here:
Infant mortality rate (deaths per 1000 live births) by state 2000-2002. To put the numbers in perspective, Mississippi, with its stunning rate of 10.5 deaths per 1000 live births (or 1 in 100), has more than double the infant mortality rate of Massachusetts at 4.8, and places it somewhere between Macedonia and Uruguay on an international scale. It is also interesting to note that of the 26 states that have rates greater than the national average, 75% are so-called "Red" states, and of the 10 states with the lowest infant mortality 8 are "Blue". When you compare states with the highest infant mortality rates (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee all have rates of 8 deaths per 1000 live births or greater), and the states with the lowest infant mortality rates (California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, and Utah all have rates of infant mortality in the range of 4.8- 5.5 deaths per 1000 births) you see that a certain portion of America actually enjoys comparable or lower infant mortality than the combined average for the EU or countries like Great Britain and the Netherlands.
Our infant mortality rate year to year is between 6.5-7 per 1000 per year according to the CIA factbook. However, the rate is being dragged up by the red states, particularly in the South.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2004 With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, Maryland: 2004.
These are slightly older statistics than those being reported on today. Once the NCHS publishes the 2006 report online (and I have time to process it) I'll update the map. The issue here is that our healthcare system nationally is a disgrace, and the people who suffer the most are those poor red-staters who refuse to elect someone who could actually manage to create a national healthcare system, and wrest our medical care back from the insurance companies.