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POLICY/INTERNATIONAL: More boring pointless mush from the AEI

So the WSJ gives another know-nothing big oil-sponsored hack from AEI another forum to use the same tired defense of the US system in the Elizabeth Edwards case. Oh look! Cancer outcomes are worse here than in Europe therefore their health care systems must be worse. With the unspoken implication that if her husband’s plans get enacted she’d be dead.

Just for a minute ignore all the other issues about costs, the 18,000 people whom the IOM says die each year here earlier than they would in those European countries because they’re uninsured, medical bankruptcies up the wazoo, etc, etc, and feast your eyes instead on this little nugget from a much longer article at the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Contrary to popular belief, the health care here isn’t always the best. Many other industrialized countries provide health care that is just as good and sometimes better. For instance, 30-day acute myocardial infarction case-fatality rates are below 7% in Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland, compared with almost 15% in the United States. Incidence of major amputations among diabetic patients in Finland, Australia, and Canada is less than 10 per 10,000 compared with 56 per 10,000in the United States. And Australia, Canada, England, and New Zealand all have a better 5-year kidney transplantation survival rate than the United States.

There are so many better things to be arguing about.

But if the AEI and the fake free-marketeers want to play that game, why is the American health care system killing people with heart attacks, or chopping the legs off diabetics at more than double the rate of foreigners? Does the AEI really want to go down that path–particularly as there are way more Americans  with heart disease and diabetes than with cancer.

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I think most agree on the inefficiency of the American health care system. But when we start trying to draw a casual relationship between these health care outcome figures, which are truly multivariable, and the quality of (including access to) the American health care system we run into some major problems. This country has the poorest lifestyle habits in the western world. We’re talking the highest incidence of obesity in the western world, more importantly one of the highest incidences of childhood obesity, some of the highest rates of diabetes, and clearly comparatively poor type 2 DM management compliance. The… Read more »