Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I've Long Suspected

The anti-Amerikkans from the left have screamed so long and loud about health care that I almost believed it. How often have you heard Labourites or Greens bemoaning changes to our health system as 'Americanising' or 'like America where people are left to die in the gutter'?

Victor Davis Hanson sums it up succinctly. The whole piece is worth a read, particularly the bit about where he lives.

"I have had long hospitalizations in the past abroad as well as surgery; my impression is that the American medical system provides better care for its indigent than most countries afford their wealthy."

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fuck! If NZ was

'like America where people are left to die in the gutter'?


it would be a much, much better place.

Harpoon said...

Adolf, you are wrong.

The New York Times reported in August last year on research conducted by the (non-partisan) Urban Institute.*

Experts analysed various studies that compared national health care systems in developed nations.
-- The conclusion : although the United States does better in some areas, like cancer care, it does worse in others, like preventing deaths from treatable and preventable conditions.
-- Bottom line: If you say that American health care is the best in the world , youre basing your opinoion not on fact, but on other people's opinion. Hardly worth listening to you. You have no hard evidence of any particular area in which American health care is truly exceptional.

However, compare to the two bugaboos of the right, Canada and Great Britain:
-- Canadians receive better care with better results and longer survival periods in renal dialysis, kidney transplants, childhood leukemia, colorectal cancer. According to the CIA Factbook, hardly a liberal source, Canadians overall enjoy over three years longer life expectancy than Americans, and the Canadian infant mortality rate is far below the US. And this is with Canada spending about half what we do per capita on health care.
-- Britons on average live longer than Americans, and fewer U.K. infants per capita die before the age of one than do American infants. The U.K. spends less than half what America does does per person on health care.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/opinion/26wed3.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

* Victor Davis Hanson, on the other hand IS partisan. Very. He was heavily involved in bush administration spin, and is literally a paid up member of the libertarian movement -- he's a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Harpoon said...

Woops, typo. when I said "this is with Canada spending about half what we do per capita on health care.", I meant "this is with Canada spending about half what AMERICANS do per capita on health care."

KG said...

Wow the NY Times, eh..first time I've seen that lefty rag quoted as an authority!

KG said...

"Canadians receive better care with better results.."
Which is why so many of them cross the border for health care--they're fleeing socialist excellence.

KG said...

For an accurate (and grown-up, as opposed to your knee-jerk lefty response Harpoon) analysis of the differences, go here:
http://healthcare-economist.com/2007/10/02/health-care-system-grudge-match-canada-vs-us/

Psycho Milt said...

Wow the NY Times, eh..first time I've seen that lefty rag quoted as an authority!

Yeah, I guess the NYT doesn't really stand up against such a renowned impartial authority as pyjamasmedia.com...

...they're fleeing socialist excellence.

No, the ones with plenty of money are choosing the system that best looks after people with plenty of money. The US system is definitely tops for that.

For an accurate analysis of the differences, go here:

where we discover that the US and Canadian systems are actually reasonable close to each other in performance, despite the Canadians spending a huge amount less.

The bottom line in assessing health care is: how well does it serve the bottom 20% of society? Fact is, people like us will get decent healthcare whether we're in the US system or the NZ system - the only big difference is in what the coverage for the people with no money is like. Adolf may have a right-wing blogger who asserts US health care for the poor is excellent, but there's a shitload of research suggesting otherwise.

KG said...

"where we discover that the US and Canadian systems are actually reasonable close to each other in performance, despite the Canadians spending a huge amount less."
We discover a damn sight more than that PM, but I guess if you don't have the wit to see it you're beyond educating.

KG said...

And for idiot socialist comment of the week (it's a crowded field, admittedy) we have:
"The bottom line in assessing health care is: how well does it serve the bottom 20% of society?"

Says who? The bottom 20% of society largely comprises those who will not help themselves and who expect others to work for them. If they're the measure of anything then God help us.
You'll have noted, I guess that a large number of those quoted as "uninsured" by the Obamacommies in order to bolster their case choose not to carry health insurance- despite being employed- and illegal immigrants?

Psycho Milt said...

Says who?

Says anyone who actually gives a shit about other people. Frankly, I very much doubt that your bulletproof lack of empathy for other humans is widely shared among right-wingers.

As I said, people like us have no problem getting decent health care whatever the system. The significant differences are in how the people at the bottom get treated. You may feel like you'd get cheaper health care if we just weeded out the weaklings, but the rest of your society doesn't share that view. Bad luck - go find a desert island to live on.

KG said...

"Frankly, I very much doubt that your bulletproof lack of empathy for other humans is widely shared among right-wingers."
Really? You have no idea of what I do and have done for other humans.
Furthermore, pointing out that some people will not help themselves isn't "lack of empathy" by any stretch of the imagination. Well, perhaps on Planet Milt it is...rational people don't waste empathy on those who won't help themselves.
"You may feel like you'd get cheaper health care if we just weeded out the weaklings, but the rest of your society doesn't share that view."
Take your strawman and shove it up your ass. Unless, of course you can point out where I've ever advocated such a thing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Psycho Milt said...

Anonymous: I use a pseudonym on this blog. Please respect that if you want to comment.

Psycho Milt said...

Furthermore, pointing out that some people will not help themselves isn't "lack of empathy" by any stretch of the imagination.

Some people certainly don't do themselves any favours and nobody disputes it. However, you wrote:

The bottom 20% of society largely comprises those who will not help themselves and who expect others to work for them.

Given that the bottom 20% actually largely consists of people like children, the elderly, invalids, people recovering from injuries or illnesses physical and mental, people in low-paid jobs, the short-term unemployed etc, how else are we meant to interpret your comment other than as I did?

KG said...

Well, I'd dispute your breakdown of the bottom 20% for starters Milt.
Children ought to be covered/cared for by their parents. To include them is questionable. The elderly per se aren't in the bottom 20%--plenty of them are covered by private insurance in the U.S.
The numbers recovering from illness and injury are trivial and would barely register in any statistical analysis--and in any case many of those are covered by insurance as well.
People in low paid jobs? Well, it's all a matter of priorities. Here in NZ we see people in low-paid jobs crying poor and living on takeaways, cigarettes and alcohol. And plenty of them manage to afford Sky and LCD televisions.
My smoking habit costs me more than my medical insurance, by the way)

Democrats have repeatedly bloated the numbers of uninsured by including illegal immigrants and those who refuse to take out insurance even though they could afford it. It's a dishonest tactic.

The report I provided a link to also mentions the racial element in health outcomes in the U.S. Blacks are more likely to be obese, more likely to suffer from a whole range of ailments due to their lifestyle choices and that skews the figures.Just as when talking about violent crime, where if we remove black-on-black and black-on-white violence the figures look totally different.
Canada doesn't have a large black population and that obviously is reflected in some of the statistics.
To point that out isn't in any way racist--that's simply a fact of life and health care research is a complex and difficult field in any case.

Danyl said...

people like us have no problem getting decent health care whatever the system.

The interesting thing about the US health-care system is that 'people like us' really don't get very good health care in the US. People like us get bankrupted by healthcare costs on a regular basis, because even though we have insurance the insurance companies often refuse to cover medical costs because disputing payment through the courts is cheaper than paying for treatment.

Even if you have REALLY good gold-plated insurance their system still sucks. I was at a conference in the US a couple years back and one of my friends was recovering from cancer, the treatment of which was delayed because every stage of the process - diagnosis, biopsies, surgery etc - had to be signed off by the insurance company before it could go ahead, which meant an extra wait of a week or so in between each stage of his diagnosis and treatment. This was a tenured professor working at a university that owned the hospital treating him!

It's a great healthcare system if you're a doctor though. US based doctors are the richest in the world by a huge margin, and the insurance industry is so profitable it's been spending over two million dollars a day lobbying congress, every day for the past year. So it works for some people, just not people like us.

Gooner said...

Luckily we live in New Zealand then, and not the US.

My wife had pretty important surgery recently at four weeks notice with only a consultation letter from her GP and the specialist. Southern Cross approved it in 3 days and booked her in straight away - done and dusted now.

The State offered her a waiting list of 3 months or so.

No thanks.

Harpoon said...

KG: Can't you read? I didn't quote them as an authority; I credited them with the report on the Urban Institute's report. Go to the Urban Institute website if you like. It's a not partisan organisation, so it shouldn't stick in your craw too much.

Canadians crossing the border are most likely to be doing so for private healthcare on their own terms and time ... and expense. (On your logic, all people leaving NZ would be doing so because they are fleeing the NZ government)

My so-called "knee-jerk lefty response" is actually the conclusions published by the Urban Institute, a non-partisan research institution. And it is more up to date than the reference you gave.

KG: "The numbers recovering from illness and injury are trivial and would barely register in any statistical analysis" I'm delighted that you admit that the stats for those claiming invalids and sickness benefits are not worth talking about. Did you take that line all through the time of the Labour-led government?

KG, regarding people in low paid jobs ... you'd have to admit that there will always be those jobs. Indeed, many of the employers (who you idolise) insist on paying very low wages. Are you now calling for those employers to raise the wages to decent levels? If not, why do you think it would be a good thing for those people to be unable to get decent healthcare? Why would that make you happy? Also, with regard to your comments about the poor and consumer goods, what evidence can you produce that your statement is true?

Finally, KG, I struggle to understand your blatherings about race.

Psycho Milt said...

The interesting thing about the US health-care system is that 'people like us' really don't get very good health care in the US.

Now that you mention it, I recall the only time I tried to use my employer-provided health insurance while working for an American company (in Kuwait), the bureaucracy involved was so annoying I just went back to buying stuff direct from the pharmacy. (Kuwaiti pharmacists seem to sell you pretty much whatever you want without a prescription: "Insulin? Sure, which one? 10 mls enough, or you want more? How about syringes? You'll need syringes with that - I got a cheap pack of 20 here...")

KG said...

"I'm delighted that you admit that the stats for those claiming invalids and sickness benefits are not worth talking about. Did you take that line all through the time of the Labour-led government?"
Not the same thing at all as"The numbers recovering from illness and injury" in the U.S., which is what I was talking about and I suspect you know it.
People in this country have been moved from the dole on to sickness benefits with minimal checks in order to make the dole figures look better and many on sickness and invalid benefits have no business at all being there.
Lindsay Mitchell has the figures, if you're at all interested in facts.
And I was talking about the USA Vs Canada in any case at that point.

KG said...

"Finally, KG, I struggle to understand your blatherings about race."
Firstly, I'm not surprised you struggle to understand anything Harpoon.

When comparing the U.S. and Canadian health statistics, to do so without taking the large African-American component of the U.S. figures into account is to compare apples with oranges because one racial group skews the figures very significantly.
Canada has very few African Americans therefore those diseases particularly prevalent in that group don't affect the Canadian figures.
Got it?
Why the hell do you think the report I quoted includes figures which subtract those particular complaints? Because the researchers were all racist, fer chrissakes?
As an aside, if the current Administration were serious about health-care reform, they'd address tort law reform first.
But they haven't.
The research says it all so anything I could add is superfluous.

Harpoon said...

KG: "People in this country have been moved from the dole on to sickness benefits ..." Have they? Really? In what numbers? This is news to me. Please provide a reference to the source info on Lindsay's site -- you're the person making the claim, so you should have the info to hand.


KG, on race -- are you sure it's the racial group in their physical identity as African-Americans, or the fact that a higher proportion of them fall in to lower socio-economic groupings? If you spoke about, and were more interested in, the latter, then you would likely avoid being accused of racism. Canada has a signifant racial minority in native peoples, who also suffer from economic oppression and concommittant health problems. As does NZ.

Demonization of people based in the colour of their skin (or on the fig leaf of 'culture') is reprehensible.

It's not poor character that causes their preventable health problems; it's social injustice and oppression that cause poverty.

Indeed, far from demonizing the black people, as right-wingers always do, What must we do, just hope and fervently pray that the poor are helped, that alms are given? No. Quite apart from it being inhumane, immoral, it would also damage commerce. So concrete actions to help the poor and promote justice, not pious wishes and belief in The Market, are required. That duty to promote justice leads naturally to the fact that social, political and economic policies must be put in place to correct the imbalances caused by the market.