Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WHO Rankings

According to the WHO, France has the best healthcare system in the world. The WHO also puts 36 countries ahead of the United States in its healthcare rankings. I think this is interesting. Ask yourself this question: If you had a choice between getting healthcare in the United States or getting healthcare in Israel, Colombia, Cyprus, Morocco, Malta, or Costa Rica, which one would you choose? According to the WHO, you should pick any one of those countries over the United States. They all have better healthcare systems than the U.S. If it were me(and this is merely my opinion), if I had a choice between Tel Aviv and Kansas City for my medical care, I'd choose Kansas City every time.

John Stossel is a journalist for ABC News. Here are his thoughts on the WHO's healthcare rankings:

"So what's wrong with the WHO and Commonwealth Fund studies? Let me count the ways.

The WHO judged a country's quality of health on life expectancy. But that's a lousy measure of a health-care system. Many things that cause premature death have nothing do with medical care. We have far more fatal transportation accidents than other countries. That's not a health-care problem.

Similarly, our homicide rate is 10 times higher than in the U.K., eight times higher than in France, and five times greater than in Canada.

When you adjust for these "fatal injury" rates, U.S. life expectancy is actually higher than in nearly every other industrialized nation.

Diet and lack of exercise also bring down average life expectancy.

Another reason the U.S. didn't score high in the WHO rankings is that we are less socialistic than other nations. What has that got to do with the quality of health care? For the authors of the study, it's crucial. The WHO judged countries not on the absolute quality of health care, but on how "fairly" health care of any quality is "distributed." The problem here is obvious. By that criterion, a country with high-quality care overall but "unequal distribution" would rank below a country with lower quality care but equal distribution.

It's when this so-called "fairness," a highly subjective standard, is factored in that the U.S. scores go south.

The U.S. ranking is influenced heavily by the number of people — 45 million — without medical insurance. As I reported in previous columns, our government aggravates that problem by making insurance artificially expensive with, for example, mandates for coverage that many people would not choose and forbidding us to buy policies from companies in another state.

Even with these interventions, the 45 million figure is misleading. Thirty-seven percent of that group live in households making more than $50,000 a year, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Nineteen percent are in households making more than $75,000 a year; 20 percent are not citizens, and 33 percent are eligible for existing government programs but are not enrolled.

For all its problems, the U.S. ranks at the top for quality of care and innovation, including development of life-saving drugs. It "falters" only when the criterion is proximity to socialized medicine."


afoos said...

The US may rank top for quality of care but those 45 million who don't have access to it don't even know what you are talking about. To them, access to this care is nearly impossible either because their health prevents them from taking out an insurance policy, there is too much read tape in the application process for government insurance, or they can't afford the hundreds of dollars per month. And why not Tel Aviv? Have you ever been to a hospital there? Do you know what a hospital stay is like in Costa Rica? As long as you don't know for sure, I wouldn't say you'd prefer KC over one of these places. And, did you know that there are still places in the US that have infant mortality rates close to those of the third world? In the backwoods of the South, infants born to African mothers don't have a high life expectancy due to poor health care and living conditions. Would you prefer to go to a free hospital in one of these poor areas or Tel Aviv? Oh, I forgot, you have a job that gives health insurance, so your hospital isn't a worry, you can go pretty much anywhere. And, like I said, E and I are on the job hunt for next summer so that we can have health insurance when we come back to the US. If you know of anyone who is hiring, let us know, because like you say, we do need to get jobs, we're lazy.

Tony and Beth said...

C'mon Andie. Let's be real here. The United States is not perfect. I'm not familiar with a country that has no homeless people, no infant mortality, 100% perfect happy people. Maybe there's a country like that out there, I'm just not aware. Is there a lot of red tape in the US health care system? Absolutely. Because there are a few parts of the US health care system that are broken, doesn't mean we need a new system. Let's fix what's wrong and move on. I said "in my opinion", I would go to KC over Tel Aviv for medical care. It's my opinion and my choice. Whether or not you think I should go there, is irrelevant. Andie, you moved to France before you got a full-time job so maybe you don't know how the health care system works here. This statement "Oh, I forgot, you have a job that gives health insurance, so your hospital isn't a worry, you can go pretty much anywhere." Insurance isn't free here. We pay for it. Beth pays nearly $3,000 a year for her insurance, plus she still pays for her doctor's visits and her prescriptions. So to say that we're the privileged ones, is just stupid. Finally, you and E are looking for a job next summer so you can have health care because like I said, you are lazy? HUH? When did I say anyone was lazy? I said, if you can work and need healthcare, get a job. I shouldn't pay for your insurance. Likewise, I would never expect the French government or any government for that matter to pay for my insurance if I went and spent a summer living there. I would never think of it. To me, it's about expectation. If you don't have a job, it doesn't mean you're lazy. But if you can work, don't have healthcare and don't have any money, but complain about not having anything. All I can say is, get a job. The government shouldn't take care of you.

afoos said...

And you think it's normal for Beth to be paying 3,000 a year for insurance plus, I'm sure, having to pay for co-pays and deductibles on top of that? Do you think it's normal for you to worry about what hospital you can go to or what doctor you can see because you have to go to the one where your HMO covers? I worked for a year, on my own in the US before moving to France and a mammography for a lump they found cost 400 dollars out of pocket. My salary at the time was: student loans. Those things are not normal and I was working making 800 dollars a month as a TA. That means half of my salary went to a test to decide if I could have cancer. What if it had been and I hadn't of forked out the student loan money for the test? There are millions of people like that in the US. I never said France's healthcare is perfect but I feel that we are taken care of. It's a personal choice, of course and everyone, including you, is entitled to think what you want about who should be paying for our well being. I just think that it should be the society in which I live and that I shouldn't have to fend for myself in this stressful world, at least not for my health. You think differently and that's fine.

You did say that if we are able to work and need healthcare then we can get a job. Do you still know of anyone who is hiring? We are able to work and during our visits to the US we do need affordable healthcare. I wouldn't want Gab or Louise to break a leg the night before your wedding and us have to fly back to France to get healthcare because the probably (I'm just assuming) 5,000 they would ask at a hospital is more than we earn in a month. But, I'm thinking that you might be able to help us out if that were to happen, given how important it is for family to be together on that day, money isn't of importance, or at least it shouldn't be.

Tony and Beth said...

Here are my thoughts on what the US Government should do:

The US Government should take care of the millions of foreign visitors to the US each year(health care, food, extra spending money, tickets to Disney World, pretty much anything they need)

Pay for the health care of the millions of illegal immigrants in the US(health care, food, diapers, whatever they need)

Pay for everyone's college in the US, to get anywhere, you need education(whether you're here legally or not, if you're in America, the government should pay for it)

Send out a gas card to everyone who owns a car to help pay for rising gas costs

In fact, I think that anyone who can spell U.S.A.(whether a U.S. citizen or living in another country) should get a check from the American Government. We owe it to them.

Doesn't the government owe it to us? What doesn't the government owe us?

In fact, Bill Gates has a lot of money, I think he owes some of it to me. Same with Warren Buffett.

I expect every other country that I will visit in my lifetime to take care of me too. Why should I give them anything? They owe me healthcare if I am in their country.

One of my professors said this on my first day of class, "there's no such thing as a free lunch."

Where does all of this money come from? It's not free. Who's going to pay for everyone's healthcare since you believe that anyone in the United States should be taken care of?

The French Healthcare system is billions of dollars in debt as it is, but who cares. Keep it up. Free stuff for everyone!!!!

In fact, here's what I think we should do. We'll take everyone's paychecks and deposit them into a big account. Then we'll give everyone an ATM card to the same account. This way, anytime anyone needs money, just pull out the ATM card and get money. What's mine is yours, what's yours is mine. We're all one big happy family. Someone in North Dakota can spend my money and I can spend a doctor's money in California who spent 12 years going to school and worked 80 hours a week to get where he is. I think that's a very fair concept. I deserve it.

Not sure where you're going with, "But, I'm thinking that you might be able to help us out if that were to happen, given how important it is for family to be together on that day, money isn't of importance, or at least it shouldn't be." If traveling outside of France is a big concern for you, I would recommend travelers insurance. Or maybe just call Washington D.C. and see if someone can pay for that for you too. Whatever you say Andie.

Andie, it's fine that we disagree. I think the French system works great in France. And like I said, if anyone who doesn't pay taxes in America wants to change the system here, please forward all payments to the IRS. They'll be glad to take your money to help pay for it. I live in the U.S. and worry about the U.S. I worry about where the money is coming from to pay for all of the promises. Not one time have I said how the French should run their government or their healthcare system or anything else. France can take care of itself.

afoos said...

You aren't a French citizen so of course you don't have the right to criticize the French government. I happen to be a citizen of both France and the United States. The US is the only country in the world that makes its citizens pay income tax even if they live in a foreign country. Yes, every year since I've lived here, I've filed my US income tax just like you. Fortunately, we don't make enough to have to pay taxes but some of my friends do. They pay taxes to a country that can't even provide cheaper healthcare when they come home.

I think Bill Gates is insanely rich and if everyone shared their wealth rather than selfishly kept it for themselves then our world would be a much happier place. He doesn't need all that money and no one, for that matter, needs flat screens, new houses, new cars, to travel to exotic places. We're just as happy with our TV, the first one Etienne's dad bought in the 1980s. It works, it provides E a memory of his dad- why do we have this impulsion to go buy, to show off our wealth?

I never said the government should pay for anything else besides healthcare, I think that you are exaggerating a little and we do pay for our healthcare, it just comes out of our taxes. We pay for our healthcare and we chip in for those who can't help themselves. Some people need the care some people are lucky and will never use the healthcare but I am happy to be paying for those like Etienne's uncle who has a fatal brain tumor and who is going to die any day now. Do you not think the US is in debt after wasting time and money in Iraq? ?

And, it's really nice to know that you would prefer for us to go back to France than to be there on your big day given the hypothetical that one of us has a health emergency that we couldn't afford in the US. And moreover, that you would probably (I am just assuming) be mad that we didn't just fork over the 5,000. I wasn't really going anywhere with that but it was just a point. I'm not saying there should be free healthcare, it should just be accessible. Does a doctor really need to charge 125 dollars for an appointment of 15 min.? How can my doctor, in the center of Paris where rent is sky high, afford to only charge 25 euros for an appointment (which is the standard fee) and live a decent life whereas in the US a doctor has to charge so much, especially in Houston where property isn't nearly as much as it is in France? I'm thinking the doctor wants to pocket more money but for what? To have a house on the golf course?

I am hoping there comes a point when this world stops being selfish but as long as there is money to be made and things to buy, it will never end. Please don't take my thoughts out of context- you have very good points as I do too but I think it's hopeless to convince each other about the other's view point.

Tony and Beth said...

Andie, this is where you lose credibility:

"no one, for that matter, needs flat screens, new houses, new cars, to travel to exotic places."

So now you want to pick and choose what people buy? Where they travel? A new car is dumb. A new house is dumb. We should just rent our whole lives. Living on a golf course is dumb. Having a flat screen is dumb. So if it's something that you yourself don't care about, it's dumb? Some people think getting new cameras all the time is dumb. Or having five computers is dumb. Or even having a tv at all. Those are all things that you take part in. Is that stuff dumb? I think people should have the freedom to buy whatever they want to buy with the money that they earn. It's their money, not yours.

What's an exotic place? Is going to Galveston exotic? What about Cancun? If it's somewhere you wouldn't go, then no one should go there?

With this philosophy Andie, you should live in the smallest apartment possible, eat the least amount of food possible to get your nutrition, have the cheapest, worst car that runs to get you around. Or not even have a car at all. Do you really need one? You should never eat out and never buy anything other than the cheapest thing to buy and then only if it's a necessity.

Bringing my and Beth's wedding into your healthcare argument is sad. My expectation is not for every country to take care of me when I am in their country, why would it be any different for you? If Beth had fallen and broken her leg when we were in France for Louise's baptism, would I have expected you to pay for it? What about the French Government? Nope. Come on Andie.

Finally, if you make money in the US(i.e. bank accounts, stocks, a job, any form of interest), you have to pay tax on it. Yes, Americans overseas "pay taxes" but the way it's set up, you don't pay taxes like Americans in the US pay taxes. In fact, unless you make a relatively high amount of money as an individual, you pay nothing.

Andie, we disagree. I understand. What healthcare has to do with what people choose to buy, getting a broken leg, you wanting to get a job when you travel, or who's responsible for sharing their wealth, I'll never know.

I'm done talking about this.

afoos said...

I never said it was wrong for people to buy things. I do it, you do it, we all do it. And, I understand why people do it. Consumerism puts so much pressure on the individual to buy, buy, buy and to throw out. Pressure in the United States to show off your wealth is even greater and so I can understand why people want to use their incomes to show off what they have worked hard to earn- after all, most of your life is spent at work why not have fun when you have time off? I just think that it's sad that we don't think more why we buy things. I, personally, am trying to buy less and to make more things myself but that's a personal choice for my family and I certainly don't expect others to do it. And, that doesn't mean we aren't going to buy. There is a totally different mentality in France, I guess, and people don't strive to get the latest cars or to buy a house on the golf course as much and I totally understand that where you live, the pressure is there and that you want to for yourself. And when I said NEW house, I didn't mean the choice between renting or buying. But, at the same time, I do understand how cheap housing is in Houston and that it's way more feasible for your finances to build a brand new house than an older home. We would do the same thing in your situation.

Tony and Beth said...

Andie, you know I love you to death and we've always known that we disagree on certain things. But in the end, we love each other and that's all I really care about. I'm thankful that you followed your passion(something I think everyone should do) to France, found your soulmate in Etienne, and have two beautiful children and I'm thankful that I moved to Texas and found Beth. I love how you live your life because it's how you want to live your life and I know that we both considere ourselves to be blessed in so many ways.

Related Posts with Thumbnails