U.S. Health Care: First Place in Imagination
March 4, 2010 7:08 PM   Subscribe

By what links, stats, "facts" and metrics can I demonstrate that U.S. heathcare isn't TEH BEST EVAR OMG LOL!
posted by Moistener to Law & Government (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Life expectancy versus $ spent - look where the US sits. From here. The same thing presented a bit differently. And again.
posted by Jimbob at 7:14 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about this graph published by National Geographic last year? It charts cost of care per capita, life expectancy, and average number of doctor visits. Pretty damn depressing.
posted by crapmatic at 7:16 PM on March 4, 2010

The U.S. doesn't lead (or even come close) in infant mortality or life expectancy, and gets beat by some very non-1st-world contenders in both categories (Cuba and Malta, respectively, no disrespect intended toward those countries)
posted by 0xFCAF at 7:16 PM on March 4, 2010

Malta is a first world country. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world on a per capita basis.
posted by dfriedman at 7:19 PM on March 4, 2010

For the most part, to defend against that position, you have to assume the offender is talking about the same things as you are. Which they generally aren't.

Is the US the best place for medical technology advances and the deepest talent pool of physicians? It would be hard to argue against that. Indeed, if money is no object, the US is among the top places to receive exceptional care.

That's where "best evar zomg commies" comes from.

But the other metric, that you may be talking about, is per capita spending versus results across the whole population. Or put another way, the *chances* a random person will receive excellent care for a reasonable price. That is much, much lower, with a much wider variation in regions and socioeconomic status. I can't cite it, but I saw it somewhere that if you lopped off the poorest quintile of people or so, the US shoots very high on the list, where other countries don't see that same effect. But that's the point, of course, of healthcare reform- that top 4/5 can spend the same they are spending now, get the same or better care, and also that bottom fifth can get what they need.

There is no reason, except political gamesmanship, that healthcare can't be partially socialized while remaining mostly free choice. The reason the argument has become "obama death panels" is precisely because the proposition is so rational that only the irrational can be used to refute it.
posted by gjc at 7:46 PM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Check out the website associated with the frontline documentary, Sick Around the World.

They've got graphs.

Everyone should watch the documentary. You can even watch it online!
posted by sentient at 8:31 PM on March 4, 2010

"The U.S. doesn't lead (or even come close) in infant mortality"

FYI, part of that is because hospitals in the U.S. generally engage in more heroic measures to attempt to save infants that would be treated as stillborn in many other countries. So a chunk of our high infant mortality statistics are babies that die on the same day they are born, when those babies would never have been treated as live births to begin with (and thus not counted in infant mortality statistics) in other places.

In general its hard to do cross-country comparisons on a lot of things because different places measure things differently and so you're not even comparing the same thing.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:08 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Commonwealth Fund has tons of good data, including downloadable charts and slides. The data sources are all clearly cited.
posted by cushie at 9:34 PM on March 4, 2010

demonstrate that U.S. heathcare isn't TEH BEST EVAR

For who?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:25 AM on March 5, 2010

There is no doubt that the US leads in advanced medicine and health research and practice. So, yes, that would qualify it as the best. Unfortunately that does not equal the "best" health care for the average American.
posted by JJ86 at 7:18 AM on March 5, 2010

"By what links, stats, "facts" and metrics can I demonstrate that U.S. heathcare isn't TEH BEST EVAR OMG LOL!"

I'm curious as to where you would find a credible source claiming it *is* the "BEST EVAR." For example, if you were to read National Review, Reason, or many other centers of resistance to the current proposals, you would find plenty of criticism of the US health care model. Many of those critics support reform of the system; they just oppose reform as currently being proposed. (Often their proposals reflect the idea, for example, that the industry should be more subject to the free market).

Not taking a side here. Just noting that many thoughtful people oppose the Obama Administration's vision without defending the current system.
posted by Alaska Jack at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2010

I just watched this yesterday:

FRONTLINE: sick around the world | PBS


Per capita expenditures on health care
Universality of coverage / number of uninsured
Number of medical bankruptcies
Percent of expenses on admin overhead
Infant mortality
Waiting times
Access to specialists

Guess how the US fares in all of these?

The US does far better in two other measurements though: corporate profits and doctors income. We're number one at those!

On preview: this the same show that sentient mentioned above. Watch it.
posted by intermod at 9:02 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

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