Tag Archives: life expectancy

Health care & the myth of United States’ poor life expectancy

At Forbes, Avik Roy writes:

It’s one of the most oft-repeated justifications for socialized medicine: Americans spend more money than other developed countries on health care, but don’t live as long. If we would just hop on the European health-care bandwagon, we’d live longer and healthier lives. The only problem is it’s not true. …

If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? … I compiled … data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one? …

A few years back, Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa asked the obvious question: what happens if you remove deaths from fatal injuries from the life expectancy tables? Among the 29 members of the OECD, the U.S. vaults from 19th place to…you guessed it…first.

Read more: The Myth of Americans’ Poor Life Expectancy – Forbes.

(via FIRM)

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“Health care” differs from “medical care”

Thomas Sowell makes an excellent point:

… Even in matters of life and death, too many people accept words instead of thinking, leaving themselves wide open to people who are clever at spinning words. The whole controversy about “health care reform” is a classic example.

“Health care” and medical care are not the same thing. The confusion between the two spreads more confusion, when advocates of government-run medical care point to longer life expectancies in some other countries where government runs the medical system.

Health care affects longevity, but health care includes far more than medical care. Health care includes such things as diet, exercise and avoiding things that can shorten your life, such as drug addiction, reckless driving and homicide.

If you stop and think– which catchwords can deflect us from doing– it is clear that homicide and car crashes are not things that doctors can prevent. Moreover, if you compare longevity among countries, leaving out homicide and car crashes, Americans have the longest lifespan in the western world.

Why then are people talking about gross statistics on longevity, as a reason to change our medical care system? Since this is a life and death issue, we need to think about the realities of the world, not the clever words of spinmeisters trying to justify a government takeover of medical care.

American medical care leads the world in things like cancer survival rates, which medical care affects far more than it affects people’s behavior that leads to obesity and narcotics addiction, as well as such other things as homicide and reckless driving.

Read the whole article:  The Money of Fools: Part II.

Sowell has a good point. But maybe a more benign explanation is that “health” has one syllable while “medical” has three, so it’s close enough to refer to “health care” instead of “medical care.”

For details on life expectancy and medical care, see Accidents, Murders, Preemies, Fat, and U.S. Life Expectancy, by Ronald Bailey and Reason.

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