Monday, January 4, 2010

The End of The Plan

The outrageous political and media wars, over the proposed USA Health Plan, are entering a terminal stage.

Both the US Senate and the House of Representatives have each passed plans--- versions which must be now negotiated, before being sent to the desk of the President for signing.

Why is this negotiation so problematic? Why do we doubt that anything like a real Health Plan can come out of this now?

Because the Senate plan and the house plan are wildly divergent. Especially so, since the house plan contains a government option, designed to compete with private insurers (so that citizens can force the private companies to compete for insurance coverage prices.)

This house provision (the Govt option) is likely the first to fall, when the new year brings congress back into session.

And why? The American media is full of irate letters from readers, rants warning that the proposed health plan is the fourth (or fifth?) sign of the Apocalypse.

Letters like this: "Liberals in Washington are hell-bent on destroying the world's best health-care system! Such a plan will bankrupt us! The USA has always been Number One in medical services and Medicare works great, so why ruin it with socialism?"

These are the reoccurring ragings of US media opposing (even the now much-diminished version) of the health plan---

(1) that the present system (or lack of a system) has kept the USA number one in health care worldwide.
(2) That it costs too much.
And (3) that the new plan is socialism.

Fact is, when Medicare was proposed decades ago, it was opposed by outraged American voices denouncing it as socialism. Now Medicare is embraced like mother's apple pie.

Of course such a plan is socialism--- along with all the other parts of the health and welfare system, the safety net for citizens. Also public education, and most of the rest of the government itself.

Then they cite the ruinous cost of such a plan. Another fact--- in the US budget, "defense" is 57% of the total, while health and welfare are around 4% of the total.

Then we have the most ludicrous claim of all, that the USA is Number One in world health care.

Maybe its time we took another deeper look at the World Health organization's list. Much deeper.

It's based on several health factors, such as preventable deaths, healthy life expectancy, health performance, total health expenditure. And we have included links to the WHO spreadsheets and the list of factors per country.

Here it is, the World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems, with the links that break it down. We stop the list here at the rank of the United States...

Rank Country

1 France
2 Italy
3 San Marino
4 Andorra
5 Malta
6 Singapore
7 Spain
8 Oman
9 Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America

Take a look at the info in these links. The WHO rankings are fair and well-considered.

See also: Preventable Deaths By Country

See also: Healthy Life Expectancy By Country

See also: Health Performance Rank By Country

See also: Total Health Expenditure as % of GDP (2000-2005)

See also: Main Country Ranks Page

So, over the past year, American citizens have been bombarded by billions of dollars in advertising and by the screaming media pundits, against the fledgling plan.

And the effect is this--- the earlier versions of the Health Plan are now still-born... watered down and mutilated beyond any recognition. It's damaged beyond salvaging.

Whatever plan now eventually emerges from the struggle in congress, it will be a greatly diminished Frankenstein mutation.

So, if US citizens want better health plans, maybe they should move to Chile, or Colombia, or Dominica?

Is there that much room in the so-called Third World?

Source: WHO World Health Report -

See also Spreadsheet Details (731kb)

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