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January 15, 2012


Just came across another reason to vote for Canada. Most Canadians want to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. See:

Geez. Why are Canadians so much smarter than Americans? We really need to let them take over our country.

Canada has a lot going for it, I guess. Never been there. But apparantly health care is not one of them:

There are actually two messages here. The first is very
interesting, but the second is absolutely astounding - and explains a lot.

A recent "Investor's Business Daily" article provided very
interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations International
Health Organization.

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years
after diagnosis:

U.S. 65%

England 46%

Canada 42%

Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received
treatment within six months:

U.S. 93%

England 15%

Canada 43%

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it
within six months:

U.S. 90%

England 15%

Canada 43%

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within
one month:

U.S. 77%

England 40%

Canada 43%

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million

U.S. 71

England 14

Canada 18

Percentage of seniors (65+), with low income, who say they are
in "excellent health":

U.S. 12%

England 2%

Canada 6%

And now for the last statistic:

National Health Insurance?


England YES

Canada YES

Check this last set of statistics!!

The percentage of each past president's cabinet who had worked
in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet.
You know what the private business sector is a real-life business, not a
government job. Here are the percentages.

T. Roosevelt.................... 38%

Taft.................................. 40%

Wilson ........................... 52%

Harding........................... 49%

Coolidge......................... 48%

Hoover............................ 42%

F. Roosevelt................... 50%

Truman........................... 50%

Eisenhower................ .... 57%

Kennedy......................... 30%

Johnson.......................... 47%

Nixon.............................. 53%

Ford................................ 42%

Carter............................. 32%

Reagan........................... 56%

GH Bush......................... 51%

Clinton .......................... 39%

GW Bush........................ 55%

Obama..................... 8%

This helps to explain the incompetence of this administration:
only 8% of them have ever worked in private business!

That's right! Only eight percent---the least, by far, of the
last 19 presidents! And these people are trying to tell our big
corporations how to run their business?

How can the president of a major nation and society, the one
with the most successful economic system in world history, stand and talk
about business when he's never worked for one? Or about jobs when he has
never really had one? And when it's the same for 92% of his senior staff
and closest advisers? They've spent most of their time in academia,
government and/or non-profit jobs or as "community organizers." They should
have been in an employment line.

tucson, there's definitely some plus'es in the US health care system, but even more minus'es. We spend way more than other industrialized countries on health care, yet the return in terms of health -- longevity, wellness, and such -- is poor. Lots of money is wasted in ways that countries with better organized health systems avoid.

This editorial, which I just came across, describes some of the plus'es and minus'es.

I couldn't log into the NY Times article without a password.

I am with you that health care costs are high in the U.S. and the system needs reform. Working with U.S. insurance companies can be extremely maddening. This is because there is little competition in the industry and the insured ends up, in effect, working for the insurer. Language in insurance company contracts is such that they can get out of almost any procedure. The words "at the company's discretion" appear everywhere. With these words they control your life and you get to pay them $1000 a month with a $2000 deductible for the aggravation dealing with the ramifications of that phrase.

Canada or England would not be very good models for what this reform would look like because according to my statistics people are not doing very well in their systems.

I mean, you may get a procedure done for free in those countries, but if you are sicker or dead before a specialist can see you I don't see the advantage. This is why many Canadians end up going to the U.S. or other countries for treatment if they have the money to do it.

I object to any health care system that removes your freedom of choice and treatment options...when some dictocrat tells you when and what treatment you will get. I would rather pay more for freedom. I don't think government needs to be involved except to establish and enforce laws related to fraud and that sort of thing. Let the marketplace sort it out by allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines, for example.It would be nice to have an insurance company kiss my butt for a change in order to keep my business.

It is my understanding that Germany has a socialized medical system that works fairly well and is solvent. One way they accomplish this is relatively low pay for doctors. They work for a fixed salary and their hours are long. One German specialist said she works 10-14 hours with one two week vacation at the standard government doctor salary of the equivalant in Euros to $86,000 U.S.

My daughter is currently in medical school. By the time she is done she will have invested 13 years in higher education and a quarter million in debt.

I would not want to go through all that to have my salary capped at $86,000.

tucson, here's the NY Times editorial, minus a chart that wouldn't have copied over very well.
Why does an appendectomy in Germany cost roughly a quarter what it costs in the United States? Or an M.R.I. scan cost less than a third as much, on average, in Canada?

Americans continue to spend more on health care than patients anywhere else. In 2009, we spent $7,960 per person, twice as much as France, which is known for providing very good health services. And for all that spending, we get very mixed results — some superb, some average, some inferior — compared with other advanced nations. Why this is true isn’t easily answered.

Health reform is supposed to control costs, but there is no simple avenue of attack. Our aging population has played a role in driving up medical costs, but Germany, Italy and Japan have much bigger percentages of elderly people while spending much less per capita on health care.

The spread of health insurance, which shields patients from price sensitivity, has played a role in driving up our spending. But almost all other advanced industrial nations cover virtually everyone, while we leave 50 million uninsured.

Administrative costs are high here — no surprise given the hordes of clerks and accountants needed to deal with insurance paperwork. And technological advances, which are sometimes highly beneficial and sometimes not, often cost a lot more than standard treatments. (Surprisingly, American doctors lag far behind their counterparts abroad in using electronic health records, which can help avoid costly errors and duplications.) Insurance companies’ profits and the high pay of their executives may account for some of the cost differences with other countries, but there is little good data on this.

A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 34-member group that includes the most advanced industrial nations, concluded that spending is high here partly because the prices charged by American doctors and hospitals are higher than they are anywhere else.

The International Federation of Health Plans, in its 2010 comparative price report, documented just how large the price differential can be for a wide range of services. While it’s difficult to get data that is truly comparable from one country to another, the trends show Americans paying a lot more than people in other countries for the same services.

Measuring how effectively we spend health care dollars is hugely complicated. But cross-national surveys offer some clues. We’re good at giving patients what they want — if they ask for it. So Americans can see a specialist or get elective surgery a lot faster than patients in other countries, according to surveys by the Commonwealth Fund. The surveys also show that Americans are more likely than people in other advanced nations to experience medical errors or problems with uncoordinated care, and to forgo care because it’s too expensive.

The O.E.C.D. report rates America at or near the top for survival rates in breast and colorectal cancer but slightly below average in cervical cancer. We rank in the middle of the pack in the percentage of heart attack patients who die in the hospital within 30 days of admission. And we have alarmingly high rates of hospital admissions for asthma and uncontrolled diabetes — an indicator that many patients don’t have good primary care, which can prevent costly hospital stays.

Most other advanced countries hold down prices through government regulations. We set prices in Medicare and Medicaid programs. But in private markets, reform has to rely on other means, such as financial incentives for providers to curb costs by coordinating care and improving efficiency. One demonstration program significantly reduced spending by bundling payments to hospitals and doctors to cover all in-patient services connected with heart bypass surgeries.

The idea at the heart of the reform law is that such strategies, once proved effective, could be carried out on a large scale — and eventually bring total spending under control.

I read the article which seemed fair and unbiased as far as it went, but it really doesn't change my comment before it.

I guess I would rather risk an error due to available expensive medical care in the U.S. than to die while waiting for cheap medical care in some other country.

We should remember that even free medical care is not free. It has to be paid for somehow and that does not seem to be working out very well in many European countries who are insolvent due to excessive entitlements.

I prefer a market-based solution to the problem of medical care and insurance.

"Life is Fair."

Robert Paul Howard

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