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Monday, August 17, 2009

So Many Half-Truths, So Little Time

A fraud not only is stating something that is untrue, but also failing to state something that is necessary to avoid making a true statement misleading. A material omission as amounting to a fraud is a basic legal concept certainly familiar to this administration.

So it is for the frequent assertion that we spend more per person on health care, but have a shorter life span than other industrialized countries. True, but there is a failure to state material facts necessary to avoid the misleading impression that the shorter life span is a result of our health care system.

In fact, we do have a shorter life span, but not because of our health care system. So points out Steve Chapman today:

It's true that the United States spends more on health care than anyone else, and it's true that we rank below a lot of other advanced countries in life expectancy. The juxtaposition of the two facts, however, doesn't prove we are wasting our money or doing the wrong things.

It only proves that lots of things affect mortality besides medical treatment. Heath Ledger didn't die at age 28 because the American health care system failed him.

One big reason our life expectancy lags is that Americans have an unusual tendency to perish in homicides or accidents. We are 12 times more likely than the Japanese to be murdered and nearly twice as likely to be killed in auto wrecks.

In their 2006 book, "The Business of Health," economists Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John E. Schneider set out to determine where the U.S. would rank in life span among developed nations if homicides and accidents are factored out. Their answer? First place.

That discovery indicates our health care system is doing a poor job of preventing shootouts and drunk driving but a good job of healing the sick. All those universal-care systems in Canada and Europe may sound like Health Heaven, but they fall short of our model when it comes to combating life-threatening diseases.

A half-truth is not the truth. But there's so little time to uncover all the half-truths driving this administration.

Related Posts:
Deception and Tyranny Key To Health Care Reform
Some Honesty On The Public Health Plan Option

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  1. Americans die young for many many reasons. Obesity and heart disease, car accidents, pool drownings, gun violence, drug use, the list goes on and on. None of this has anything to do with healthcare, but culture and lifestyle. But another part of the half truth is that Americans do in fact live as long as the Europeans when healthcare is most important, after the age of 65. When you look at the life expectancy of Americans after they reach 65, the stats even out. The latest available data from the CDC and Eurostat on life expectancy of males and females in the USA, UK, France and Germany at age 65 is the following: USA(82.2,85); UK(81,84); France (82,86); Germany(81,85). So the truth is, once americans traverse the pitfalls of their social habits, our healthcare system does no worse than the vaunted European health care system So if you plan on living to 65, you're no worse off than the Europeans and you and your family have many more choices available to make your last years more comfortable.

  2. Another omission in the half-truths of the government insurance argument regarding life expectancy is the differential rate among minorities in the US. According to the CDC, Hispanics have a higher life expectancy than non hispanic whites. Much of the difference is attributable to methods in obtaining the data, but lets assume Hispanics have the same, not greater life expectancy. According to the progressive argument, this would mean that Hispanics in the US have the same access to health care as do non-hispanic whites. Problems solved!

  3. Somethings tells me this post may also explain the "42 million uninsured" and the "15 million homeless."

  4. Professor Mark Perry has a nice chart on his blog(Carpe Diem) posted yesterday, Aug. 16 that illiustrates the incomplete information that is put out there by the pro Obamacare crowd.


  5. You might wish to examine the concept of amenable mortality as described here http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/In-the-Literature/2008/Jan/Measuring-the-Health-of-Nations--Updating-an-Earlier-Analysis.aspx

    Robert Nagle

  6. If we're going to remove selected portions of the data that help increase the average life expectancy, e.g. 14,000 murders and 37,000 traffic deaths including pedestrians, our average life span would surely decrease if the 200,000 deaths due to medical mistakes were included.