USA! USA! USA!

We’re winning again – in the race to the bottom that is . . . per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US ranks near the bottom in life expectancy among wealthy nations despite spending more than double per person on health care than the industrialized world’s average.

Way to go!! We must be doing something right, yes?

From the story at MSNBC:

“Total U.S. spending on health care was $7,290 a person in 2007, nearly two-and-a-half times the OECD average of $2,984. The figures include spending by both individuals and governments.

“It suggests that the U.S. is not getting great value for its health spending, in terms of life expectancy,” Gaetan Lafortune, one of the report’s co-authors said.

He said the U.S. needs to look “closely at spending that has little or no value in terms of improved health.”

11 responses to “USA! USA! USA!

  1. nearly two-and-a-half times the OECD average

    The same statistic is true of blue jeans, plasma TVs, pro-sports tickets, digital camera, blueberries, aquariums and air conditioners.

    “It suggests that the U.S. is not getting great value for its health spending, in terms of life expectancy,” Gaetan Lafortune, one of the report’s co-authors said.

    Except that we are. In every meaningful disease/condition, the survival rates in America are #1 in the world. If you have to have cancer, better have it in the US. If you have to have surgery, better have it in the US.

    the US ranks near the bottom in life expectancy among wealthy nations despite

    Despite the statistic having nothing to do with health care. The number being thrown out there includes deaths by guns, crime, auto accidents and bungie jumps. All deaths that have nothing what so ever to do with measuring a nation’s medical delivery system.

    When normalized for violent death, the US has the world’s #1 ranking in Life Expectancy.

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    • [The same statistic is true of blue jeans, plasma TVs, pro-sports tickets, digital camera, blueberries, aquariums and air conditioners.]

      This is true, if you consider health care or medical care or whatever you want to call it a commodity. And if you do, then we’re on different planets on this one.

      As for outcomes, how can you not count crime and auto accidents as part of the statistics? I death not death? Are you saying that if I crash my car in Europe and die of my injuries they don’t count it as a death in developing mortality statistics??

      And by the way, I’ve always said that if I got hit by a truck, I’d want it to be right in front of an American teaching hospital. Because what we do have is the best trauma care in the world. The rest? Not so much.

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  2. This is true, if you consider health care or medical care or whatever you want to call it a commodity.

    Of course it’s a commodity. The same way that FOOD is a commodity. And trust me, we need FOOD far more often than we need medical care.

    how can you not count crime and auto accidents as part of the statistics?

    Because someone being shot to death in the middle of the night at a crack house has NOTHING to do with America’s health care system. It has a lot to do with living in America, but zippo when it comes to our medical care.

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    • [Because someone being shot to death in the middle of the night at a crack house has NOTHING to do with America’s health care system.]

      Pino, it’s not whether that is or is not a result of our medical system – it’s whether or not it’s counted and factored into the mortality rate. A profoundly damaged newborn who dies almost immediately is not a reflection of the quality of a medical system. That death however is no doubt counted into the mortality rate.

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  3. That death however is no doubt counted into the mortality rate.

    I think that you’re missing my point.

    In your post you quote an article from msnbc saying that we don’t get good value for our spending. They base this on the fact that we have one of the lowest life expectancy rates among wealthy nations.

    My point is that you can not count life expectancy as a measure of health care spending and it’s value.

    You are absolutely correct when you say that all deaths should be counted. But when measuring health care, you should only count deaths where medical care played a role.

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    • Pino, I do get your point and in fact it’s a good one. I’m just sayin’ that when the cost per person in other countries is calculated on things like mortality rate, I would be surprised if they discriminated between medical deaths, natural deaths, and accidental deaths. I could be wrong.

      Since we count all those, why wouldn’t they? If they don’t then we’re looking at apples vs oranges and that’s different for sure.

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  4. I would be surprised if they discriminated between medical deaths, natural deaths, and accidental deaths. I could be wrong.

    I am sure you are correct. I would imagine countries count all deaths as deaths.

    But because the US has a higher rate of death due to violent deaths, I suggest that using Life Expectancy is not a valid measure of health care/medical care.

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    • Pino: I still think you’re wrong. Because the base question is are we comparing apples to apples. Are we counting all the same things when calculating statistics. If the answer is yes, then the comparisons are valid.

      If the answer is no or ‘not quite’, then the data needs to be reorganized for any valid comparison to be made. And statisticians already do this very thing – when they see differences in counting methods, they correct for that before using the data.

      So whether we have a higher crime rate (which oddly, we don’t!) or not, or whether other countries count homicides or not – all these factors will have been allowed for, so that the resulting data are useful.

      Checking around, I see that when calculating life expectancy, typical factors included are: gender, genetics, access to health care, hygiene, diet and nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and crime rates.

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      • Are we counting all the same things when calculating statistics. If the answer is yes, then the comparisons are valid.

        Moe, we also count soccer victories in the same way. Yet we wouldn’t use that stat as a measure of our health care system.

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        • [soccer victories]
          I would guess we don’t use soccer stats as a measure of the health care system because they’re absolutely irrelevant to the health care system?

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        • I would guess we don’t use soccer stats as a measure of the health care system because they’re absolutely irrelevant to the health care system?

          Exactly. And so is a statistic like Life Expectancy irrelevant to the health care system.

          Just like keeping track of soccer goals doesn’t measure medical care, neither does keeping track of gang land deaths measure medical care.

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