America’s Lagging Health Care System
Americans are increasingly frustrated about the subpar performance of this country’s fragmented health care system, and with good reason. A new survey of patients in seven industrialized nations underscores just how badly sick Americans fare compared with patients in other nations. One-third of the American respondents felt their system is so dysfunctional that it needs to be rebuilt completely — the highest rate in any country surveyed. The system was given poor scores both by low-income, uninsured patients and by many higher-income patients.While the American people think the health care system is in need of a major overhaul they are not alone. Many of America's largest corporations agree.
The survey, the latest in a series from the Commonwealth Fund, is being published today on the Web site of Health Affairs, a respected health policy journal. Researchers interviewed some 12,000 adults in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
As we have seen on other issues when the Republicans don't have the facts on their side they simply lie and make stuff up. Paul Krugman describes the latest example in:
Prostates and Prejudices
“My chance of surviving prostate cancer — and thank God I was cured of it — in the United States? Eighty-two percent,” says Rudy Giuliani in a new radio ad attacking Democratic plans for universal health care. “My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England? Only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.”Yes it's all about Rudy Giuliani lying and making stuff up.
It would be a stunning comparison if it were true. But it isn’t. And thereby hangs a tale — one of scare tactics, of the character of a man who would be president and, I’m sorry to say, about what’s wrong with political news coverage.
Let’s start with the facts: Mr. Giuliani’s claim is wrong on multiple levels — bogus numbers wrapped in an invalid comparison embedded in a smear.This is not to say the British program isn't flawed, it is. But no one is suggesting the US adopt the British model.
Mr. Giuliani got his numbers from a recent article in City Journal, a publication of the conservative Manhattan Institute. The author gave no source for his numbers on five-year survival rates — the probability that someone diagnosed with prostate cancer would still be alive five years after the diagnosis. And they’re just wrong.
You see, the actual survival rate in Britain is 74.4 percent. That still looks a bit lower than the U.S. rate, but the difference turns out to be mainly a statistical illusion. The details are technical, but the bottom line is that a man’s chance of dying from prostate cancer is about the same in Britain as it is in America.
So Mr. Giuliani’s supposed killer statistic about the defects of “socialized medicine” is entirely false. In fact, there’s very little evidence that Americans get better health care than the British, which is amazing given the fact that Britain spends only 41 percent as much on health care per person as we do.
Anyway, comparisons with Britain have absolutely nothing to do with what the Democrats are proposing. In Britain, doctors are government employees; despite what Mr. Giuliani is suggesting, none of the Democratic candidates have proposed to make American doctors work for the government.Fear Tactics And Lies
As a fact-check in The Washington Post put it: “The Clinton health care plan” — which is very similar to the Edwards and Obama plans — “has more in common with the Massachusetts plan signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney than the British National Health system.” Of course, this hasn’t stopped Mr. Romney from making similar smears.
At one level, what Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney are doing here is engaging in time-honored scare tactics. For generations, conservatives have denounced every attempt to ensure that Americans receive needed health care, from Medicare to S-chip, as “socialized medicine.”Krugman then goes on to point out that the media has given Rudy a free pass to lie - his bogus data and what that indicates about his character is never brought up.
Part of the strategy has always involved claiming that health reform is suspect because it’s un-American, and exaggerating health care problems in other countries — usually on the basis of unsubstantiated anecdotes or fraudulent statistics. Opponents of reform also make a practice of lumping all forms of government intervention together, pretending that having the government pay some health care bills is just the same as having the government take over the whole health care system.
And much of the coverage seems weirdly diffident. Memo to editors: If a candidate says something completely false, it’s not “in dispute.” It’s not the case that “Democrats say” they’re not advocating British-style socialized medicine; they aren’t.
The fact is that the prostate affair is part of a pattern: Mr. Giuliani has a habit of saying things, on issues that range from health care to national security, that are demonstrably untrue. And the American people have a right to know that.