Health issue: Variables hinder US

The medical service delivery system in the United States is said to be broken.

One basis for this assertion is the lower life expectancy in the U.S. compared to Canada and Great Britain. Canada and Great Britain have nationalized medical service delivery systems.

So, the argument goes, the U.S. life expectancy would be longer if it moved to such a system.

Albert Einstein advised us to “make things as simple as possible, but not too simple.”

It appears to me that this is the error being made here.

To argue that the type of medical delivery system is the only variable that impacts life expectancy makes the problem too simple.

Other variables can affect life expectancy, including lifestyle differences, between the three countries.

Here are a few examples of lifestyle differences that reduce life expectancy in the U.S. relative to Canada and Great Britain.

This data is taken from: the World Health Organization, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, reports and studies by Ohsfeldt and Schneider of Texas A&M, O’Neil of Baruch College, and Preston and Ho of the University of Pennsylvania.

The automobile fatality rate is higher. (This is not a reason to require all to ride bicycles to work.)

The violent death is higher.

(This is not an argument for gun control as clubs and hammers are more frequently the weapons of death.)

Sadly, the suicide rate is higher. Drug-related deaths are higher. Infant mortality is higher – attributable to teen pregnancy.

Obesity is much higher.

Obesity contributes to the development of diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes and heart disease shorten lives.

All of the variables listed above negatively impact U.S. life expectancy, but have nothing to do with the type of medical service delivery system that’s in place.

When one adjusts for the differences in lifestyles and recalculates, the life expectancy in the U.S. is actually higher, not lower, than Canada and Great Britain.

Given this evidence, one could argue that the medical service delivery system in the U.S. is superior to that in either Canada or Great Britain.

This conclusion is consistent with the overwhelming anecdotal evidence of people from foreign lands flocking to the U.S. for medical treatment. One rarely sees the reverse.

The argument that the U.S. medical service delivery system is broken because of lower U.S. life expectancy is false.

Those who so argue ignore Einstein’s advice and reach an incorrect and opposite conclusion.

That is not to say that our medical service delivery system could not provide more health care at a lower cost, but that is a topic for another day.