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We're No. 19! We're No. 19!

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According to the OECD:

Canadians live two to three years longer than Americans and are as likely to survive heart attacks, childhood leukemia, and breast and cervical cancer

"There is an image of Canadians flooding across the border to get care," said Donald Berwick, a Harvard University health- policy specialist and pediatrician who heads the Boston-based nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement. "That's just not the case. The public in Canada is far more satisfied with the system than they are in the U.S. and health care is at least as good, with much more contained costs."

Rightwing critics of Canada have, of course, far more money to spend on spreading the horror stories. But there are lots of Americans who have had their own experiences with Canada who tell a different tale. They can be found all over the internet. Here's one.

Even areas in where Canada and similar countries have their greatest problems, such as wait times, the record in the U.S. is not exactly much to shout about either. Newsweek in late August unveiled these findings from the Commonwealth Fund which might have startled some:

Americans wait longer to see primary-care physicians than patients in Britain, Germany, Australia, or New Zealand--all countries with strong public-health systems. Nearly one quarter of Americans reported waiting six days or more for an appointment with their doctor. New Zealand scored best, with just 3 percent waiting that long, followed by Australia (10 percent), Germany (13 percent), and Britain (15 percent).

The U.S. and Canada stood about the same in long waits, according to this survey. There is a major difference, however. In Canada, there are no waits for emergency care. Access to care is not determined by ability to pay. No one dies because of lack of coverage. No one has their claims rejected because the insurance company deemed it "experimental" or
"investigational" -- convenient code words for it cuts into our profit margin.

The one barometer where we stand head and shoulders above everyone else is per capita spending. Terrific. Too bad so much of it ends up diverted into health care industry profits, CEO pay and perk packages, and resources devoted to helping insurance companies find ways to deny claims.

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If you're keeping score, the ten biggest pharmaceutical companies made $76.8 billion, the 18 largest insurance companies, $15.9 billion, in profits, in the most recent year for which data was available. The top ten pharmaceutical, biotech, insurance, hospital, and medical device corporate CEOs received an aggregate $619 million in total compensation in their most recent reported year. All while the number of uninsured, deaths due to lack of coverage, medical bankruptcies, and other health inequities continued to rise.

Those profit numbers -- and the gulf between those who make money off pain and suffering and those who pay the price -- are the most critical difference between the U.S. and our industrial counter parts who all have some form of single payer system, like our Medicare, or nationalized system, like our VA.

While any number of aspects of the current leading legislation in Congress may reduce these disparities, the best way to bring us in line with the community of nations that treat health care as a right is to move toward our own national system, such as expanding Medicare to cover everyone.

A vote do that is coming up on the House floor, on an amendment by Rep. Anthony Weiner. Urge your Congress member to vote for it.

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Many people complain about taxes. Taxes are too hi... by Peter Wedlund on Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009 at 9:15:17 AM
who keep telling us through LimpBalls and Hannity ... by Nick van Nes on Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009 at 12:04:21 PM
In terms of population, the Untied States is #4, A... by gone on Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009 at 1:12:23 PM
for the explanation and the statistics. It's time ... by Archie on Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009 at 4:34:24 PM