In his letter touting British-style health care, Stephen Delacroix makes some valid points about insurance. We need insurance reform but not “Obamacare,” which is designed to slowly mold the health insurance industry into a single-payer system (progressives having learned from the failure of the direct frontal attempt of “Hillarycare”). If they are successful in achieving British-style single-payer, let’s at least have the British-style malpractice tort system also.
Despite his thoughtful analysis, Delacroix strays into using two rhetorical canards frequently used to bash our heath care delivery system. These are infant mortality and life expectancy rates. Both of these are affected more by lifestyle, race, ethnicity and data collection techniques than actual delivery of care (see “Misleading neonatal data distort rankings” printed in USA Today three years ago, Oct. 3, 2011). The U.S. has superior mortality rates for high-risk neonates who actually need medical care — better than Canada and Britian and all countries except Sweden and Norway (even without accounting for demographic heterogeneity). Delacroix cites life expectancy rates from the flawed World Health Organization study. In this study, Japan has the highest rate as a nation, but Japanese Americans have a higher life expectancy than native Japanese. In fact, the highest life expectancies on the planet (outside of small enclaves like Sardinia) are American Asians and Mormons. If one really wants to compare apples to apples, Asian Americans have a higher life expectancy than Asian Canadians. Additionally, the WHO study includes homicides and fatal car crashes. What do these causes of sudden death have to do with the delivery systems? When adjusted for these, the U.S. is at or near the top in life expectancy — ahead of the United Kingdom.
If Americans want government health care for all, then by all means vote for Mary Landrieu and her Democratic colleagues in November and for Hillary Clinton in 2016. However, we should be prepared for even higher taxes (not just on the “rich”) and for rationing panels (already being discussed). Lastly, the irony of a retiree advocating for a system like the British, with its rationing by the queue and its panels denying procedures based on age, would be laughable if not so frightening.