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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/22/13

Sick in America: What Today's Reactionaries Don't Want You to Know

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Much of what we hear about health care is pure propaganda with no basis whatsoever in fact.   The purpose of propaganda is to manipulate, not to enlighten or inform, so it's no surprise that the partisan fight over health care in Congress has generated more heat than light.   The baleful effect is to deceive and thereby perpetuate the status quo -- and an ever-greater inequality that threatens to destroy the fabric of our society. 


 

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/9324668269/: 2013_07_140003 US medicine
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2013_07_140003 US medicine by Gwydion M. Williams

Among the false impressions created by libertarians, FOX news, and reactionaries of all stripes is that Americans far more freedom to choose physicians, hospitals, and treatments than people in Europe and other advanced societies with single payer systems.   Most anyone who has lived abroad and experienced a single-payer system in operation knows that's simply not true.   Nor is it true that people in these countries get less personalized attention from doctors than we do.   (Ask anybody who's spent a few days in a hospital lately how much time the doctor spent with them.)   It's what the Corporatocracy tells us, and many of us are only too eager to believe, but it's not true.  

 

The US is NOT the leader in health care in the modern world.  

 

In fact, the US is not even in the Top Ten. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the health care system in the US ranked 38th in the world in 2000.   If you're thinking that was over a decade ago, maybe we're doing better now, think again.

 

Americans DO NOT LIVE LONGER than people in many other advanced countries.

 

Don't trust UN figures?   How about Bloomberg?   According to a Bloomberg study of the most efficient health systems in the world, the US ranks 46th, just below Iran (oops!) and just above Serbia.   Among the top ten (Hong Kong, Singapore Japan, Israel, Spain, Italy, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, and Sweden),   life expectancy is significantly higher (and infant mortality is lower), as it is in the UK, Austria, Canada, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, and Germany, among others.   Amazingly, getting better results costs a lot less in these countries than we have to shell out.

 

Medical treatment in the US is BY FAR THE MOST EXPENSIVE in the world.  

 

Health care costs in US account for over 17% of total GDP every year -- roughly $2.7 trillion in 2012.   By itself, that's a very big number, as big as the entire GDP of France and bigger than Brazil's, but it takes on a whole new meaning when compared to what people in other advanced societies spend on health care and what they get in return.    Among the top ten most efficient health care systems in the world, health care costs as a percentage of GDP ranges from a low of 3.8% in Singapore to a high of 11.5% in Switzerland.   The average for the top 25 countries, all of which rank above the US in health care efficiency, is 6.54%.   That's 6.54% of GDP for a better result than we get in the US spending 17.2% of GDP.

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Tom Magstadt earned his doctorate in international relations at Johns Hopkins (SAIS). He is a twice-tenured college professor and political science chair. He also served as a foreign intelligence analyst, a Visiting Professor at the Air University (more...)
 
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