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President Obama had several opportunities during the televised congressional discussions on health care, to correct emphatic assertions by Republicans that we have the best health care in the world.  He failed to do so.

True, we may be on the cutting edge in the innovative, highly technical procedures required by world leaders, but according to the statistics provided in the anything-but-liberal Economist’s yearly Pocket World in Figures, the United States is in 41st place among the almost two hundred countries of the world when it comes to life expectancy (two places behind Cuba, by the way).

When it comes to infant mortality, we are not among the lowest twenty-five, and we are in third place when it comes to obesity among men, eighth place among women.  We are not among the eighteen countries that have the lowest number of population per doctor (Cuba comes in second, and among the industrialized countries on the list are Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands and Austria.)  Obviously, some countries who have more doctors per head may not provide optimum care, such as Russia or Greece, but the fact that the United States spends roughly one and a half times as much as the members of the European Union should be broadcast more widely than it is.

Obama’s failure to rebut affirmations that we have the best health care in the world is not only a failure of honesty. It strengthens the position of those who believe that the main problem with our health care system is its cost. Low numbers in favor of major reform include those who consider single payer to be the only solution, and those who, when false affirmations are aloud to stand, say: “If our health care is ‘the best’, we could allow ourselves to spend less without putting the health of the population in danger, right?

Originally posted to Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

    by Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:04:15 AM PST

  •  Agree totally (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    assyrian64, Gooserock

    these stats are the biggest arguments for reform.

    another one that I never hear is that the US is the only country where there is organized opposition to providing good basic healthcare to any section of it's population.

    The fact that the Dems are avoiding marginalizing opponents is very telling and doesn't bode well.

    Harry Reid's lack of backbone is an act, his obstructionism isn't.

    by stevej on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:08:09 AM PST

  •  Obama Has Never Mentioned It Even In Campaign (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He's had thousands of chances to say it. So have many other Dems who haven't.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:15:30 AM PST

  •  I've always thought this was a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    difficult thing to sell.  Frankly, for those who are insured, and who have good access to health care, we probably DO have the best health care system in the world.  The statistics show, if I recall, that the vast majority of those who had insurance were/are happy with it -- thus, the talking point that "if you like your insurance, you can keep it."  

    On the other hand, for those without insurance, who do not seek health care for fear of the cost, or who are relegated to waiting until there is a serious problem and then going to the emergency room, we do NOT have the "best system in the world."  

    The statistics, of course, blend the two.  Because of that, people who are insured, and who see only the "best healthcare in the world," will really buy that line in the debate, and will often reject the notion that our system is not as good as other developed nations, because that is their experience -- that is what they see.  They see that they have good access to very high quality care, so that is the reality for them.  The best care that this country has to offer -- the care that those who are insured get -- is not behind the rest of the world.  

    In this case, statistics -- which take into account both those with great insurance who do get "the best care in the world" and those with no insurance and no access who clearly do not get the best care in the world -- are not going to be convincing to that population that has health insurance.  And that population needs to be convinced, or you will continue to see the statistics touted by the Republicans about "the American people" being against the Democratic bil.  

    •  I question this (0+ / 0-)

      More health care doesn't mean it's healthy for your body...

      There's so many people getting over-doctored. The generalist refers you to an army of specialists who lack common sense about body parts that aren't related to their specialty.

      You can't rewind the tape and try less interventionist treatment to see what changes in the outcome. But you can look at this ranking of our country and see that something is seriously wrong given how much money we spend on it.

      In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

      by Lefty Mama on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:42:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not necessarily talking about statistics or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Mama

        whether some insured people get more care than they actually need.

        I'm talking about perception.  And most people who have good insurance and therefore access to good care simply don't buy the notion that our "system" is failing -- because it is contrary to their own perception.  

        When you are trying to do something that has political overtones, the perception of the voters is as important as the actual statistics.  

        Whether something is "wrong" in the country as a whole -- including lack of treatment/access for those without insurance in that consideration  -- is true or not doesn't matter in the perception of the group I am talking about.  Those with good insurance perceive that the care that they get is among the best in the world.  And it probably is -- for that particular group.  Whether or not it is "the best in the world" for the country as a whole is a different question.  

        Basically, you have to convince that group that even though they get care that is among the best in the world, a segment of the country does not, and that fact mandates a change to the entire system, including a change to the way they get care.

        Again, I'm talking perception, which is important to the political caculation.  

        •  but that "4-star" care is a ripoff (0+ / 0-)

          I think they should look at whether the medical care they get is really helping improve their lives. It's not clear to me that more is better.

          If we could improve outcomes while reducing the number of medical interventions that would be win-win for people but it's a loser for clinics and hospitals, as well as drug companies.

          In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

          by Lefty Mama on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:32:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You may well have that opinion (0+ / 0-)

            I think they should look at whether the medical care they get is really helping improve their lives. It's not clear to me that more is better.

            And there is, in fact, debate in the medical community about whether some are getting unnecessary care.  

            What you may think, however, doesn't seem to be shared by the majority of those with good insurance, who remain satisfied with the quality of their own health care.  How do you convince them -- those who have good insurance and therefore think they are getting great care -- that they aren't?

            Some polls  here, and here, and here (in 2009, 42% "very satisfied" with their health care plan and 38% "somewhat satisfied"; very small percentages saying dissatisfied).  As Real Clear Politics said, in August 2009:

            Most Americans continue to support major reform. But multiple polls show they are also overwhelmingly satisfied with the quality of their personal medical care, as well as their insurance coverage.

            Frankly, it seems to me that most Americans support doing something to bring care to the uninsured.  But those with insurance are concerned about the effect on their own situations, because they think they are getting very good care now.  

            •  what they should really ask is (0+ / 0-)

              are you satisfied with the cost of your premiums?

              The thing is, those who are getting insurance through work don't know what their premiums cost. If they were more aware of this, maybe they'd start putting two and two together.

              Another factor is most of us are healthy, and don't want to jinx it by thinking about what's actually covered by your policy. "It'll be there if I need it." - Don't be too sure!

              In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

              by Lefty Mama on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 12:45:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lefty Mama

            but that is another aspect of the question.

            Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

            by Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:30:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Right on! (0+ / 0-)

          Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

          by Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:29:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  This too (0+ / 0-)

        is true.
        But it's another aspect of the problem.

        Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

        by Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:28:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

      Good analysis.

      Otherjones, insights and ironies by Deena Stryker

      by Deena Stryker on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:28:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was happy with my health insurance (2+ / 0-)

    until I became ill and had to use it.  Since then, it has been a nightmare.  I have had 4 policies in a year and each one had a higher deductible and copays and one even had an unlimited stop loss where I paid 30% of all cost forever.  I lost my prescription drug coverage about 2 months before they decided they would cancel me.  I have spent the last 2 months not knowing if I was insured or not.  

    Due to a technicality of me being on Cobra and the former employer not totally closing down his business I get my policy back and this one has prescription coverage, but still has the $2500 deductible plus 20% stop loss.

    My oncology doctor had set me up for expensive Pet Scans, MRIs, xrays and blood testing two weeks ago, but I canceled.  I can't see paying the $2500 deductible when I go on Medicare soon and the deductible won't count toward the costs when I am on Medicare.   I will need that $2500 for the 4,300 dough nut hole.

    It would be a good thing, if the health insurance deductible, a person has paid the year they go on Medicare, was used toward your Medicare deductible, but it isn't. It would cost the health insurance companies more and Medicare less, I think.

    Raising the deductible only keeps most people from getting checkups.  

    One good thing about the hcr bill is they are going to get rid of the silly and expensive dough nut hole.

    I don't think they should wait 3 years to implement the new rules.

    We need Health Care, not Wealth Care.

    by relentless on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:51:07 AM PST

  •  Conservative, white America doesn't accept those (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lefty Mama

    rankings. As Blackwaterdog so eloquently wrote today, we have been witnesses to the kind of disrespect black americans experience every day, except its our president on the receiving end. He has obviously long honed his ability and attitude to brush this aside, but I think it has also made him wary of touching issues that could explode with prejudice.

    Bizarrely - I think the Health Care rankings are just such an issue. All of the poor health statistics white Conservatives will happily blame on blacks and hispanics, or if pushed the "lazy" poor. These people aren't their America, so why should they care. Want more proof - listen to Rush push the meme that all this effort and money to reform health care (even if it saves money at the end of the day) are about "reparations"!.

    In this toxic climate, Obama picks his battles carefully. I'm enjoying watching him in charge of these spoiled brats (even the 70 year old).

  •  Doing a bit of off the top of my head mathematica (0+ / 0-)

    Doing a bit of off the top of my head mathematical gymnastics here, in too many categories we rank with third world countries giving costs/benefits.  Currently having to deal with the dental community this is of particular concern to me although not always detailed in medical care rankings.  As much as I would like to think  of those who are actually providing care at the patients side as competent, carrying and looking out for the welfare of the patient, I'm quickly having my doubts.  In my mind I'm not always sure if I'm being asked 'do you have x rays?' or 'would you like to have fries with that?'

    Beer, politics & pizza - must have died and gone to heaven.

    by mrgardon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:35:18 AM PST

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