Wednesday, January 9, 2008

US Medical System Worst In 19 Industrialized Nations

Reuters reports on a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, authored by Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee, published in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal:

France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

The study abstract:

We compared trends in deaths considered amenable to health care before age seventy-five between 1997 - 98 and 2002 - 03 in the United States and in eighteen other industrialized countries. Such deaths account, on average, for 23 percent of total mortality under age seventy-five among males and 32 percent among females. The decline in amenable mortality in all countries averaged 16 percent over this period. The United States was an outlier, with a decline of only 4 percent. If the United States could reduce amenable mortality to the average rate achieved in the three top-performing countries, there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths per year by the end of the study period.

One hundred thousand deaths per year. You'd think Mike Huckabee would be all over this, after his statement about requiring immigrants for labor because we've been aborting people for 35 years:

Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our workforce," the former Arkansas governor said. "It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.

One hundred thousand deaths per year. We need immigrants because of aborted fetuses, but there's no need to stop killing 100,000 people unnecessarily because we don't have universal health care:

"I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access. But if you don't, I think that's the main problem, isn't it?" Nolte said in a telephone interview.

I have a little experience with universal health care, because I've lived in Canada for four years. It's taken me almost that long to stop asking people, "Have you seen a doctor for that?" when they talk about a health problem. Canadians look at you funny if you ask them that.

Last month I was visiting a dojo in Bellingham and one guy tweaked his knee when his foot didn't pivot on the mat (nobody hit him, he just went one way and his foot didn't follow) -- and I was confused when he talked about whether or not he could visit the doctor. Then I remembered where I was: the United States, land of trillion dollar wars and between 47 million and 58 million uninsured.

Regardless of insurance status, nearly 20 percent of Americans lack a regular source of health care, a "strong indication many Americans may not be receiving needed care", according to the CDC. Dr. Amy Bernstein, chief of the CDC's analytic studies branch at the Office of Analysis and Epidemiology (and director of the study) notes that "research shows having a usual source of care results in improved care."

One hundred thousand extra deaths per year. That's roughly one every five minutes, around the clock, 24/7/365 -- every year. Where are the Right to Lifers when you need them? From the National Right to Life mission statement:

The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life.

In a logical world, the Right to Lifers would be blockading insurance companies as well as abortion providers.

(Photo from MASH TV Series, captured from