Showing posts with label health care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health care. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fat and Lazy

Broken record, I know, but how many great nations in history have been described this way?

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.

Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.

But "it's not as simple as saying we don't have national health insurance," said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. "It's not that easy."

Among the other factors:
- Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. "We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."

- Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

- A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

Another reason for the U.S. drop in the ranking is that the Census Bureau now tracks life expectancy for a lot more countries - 222 in 2004 - than it did in the 1980s. However, that does not explain why so many countries entered the rankings with longer life expectancies than the United States.

Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy. But, he predicted, the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance.

Policymakers also should focus on ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and lung disease, said Murray. He advocates stepped-up efforts to reduce tobacco use, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

I want to nominate this quote for the award for weakest and most clueless rationalization for a public statistic:

"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. "We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."

Bet he gets tenure and spreads this wisdom for a long career.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Well, Who Woulda Thunk?

U.S. physicians who identify themselves as religious are no more likely to care for poor, underserved patients than those who have no religious affiliation, researchers have found.

The study suggests doctors in the United States who see religion as a "master motive in their lives" are not more likely to care for the poor than others.

"Religious physicians are not disproportionately caring for the underserved," Dr. Farr Curlin, of the University of Chicago, said in a telephone interview on Monday.

Curlin, who considers himself religious, said he undertook the study because many religions include a call to serve the poor.

It’s not like Jesus would have, after all.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good News

Anyone who’s had a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows what the disease does to the victim and the family. This article is a very thorough and uplifting piece for those who would like a more hopeful future.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Moving beyond the initial debate...

The last of the original pseudonymous bloggers has a very well thought-out post regarding health care...not 'universal versus not universal', but an actual discussion of different methods of this case, we're talking state versus federal. Short version of Demosthenes' post: federal = better. Here's a sample:

Let's say that two states, right beside each other, pursue different paths. One goes universal. The other goes private (status quo). There is no real barriers to movement between states, so what happens? Everybody who needs the health care is going to go to the state with universal care, so their costs go up. Everybody who doesn't want to wait in line (that's overstated, but that'll be the perception) will move to the other state. Many of these will be un- or underemployed people who don't have corporate health care. The universal state has a larger base of people who need procedures, whereas the other state will end up with a lot of new, relatively affluent taxpayers.

Yes, a lot of corporations like universal health care. Corporations who don't want to pay for health care will like the idea of the government footing the bill. A lot of income taxes are going to be leaving the state and somebody has to foot the bill, though, so they're going to soak a bigger hit than they would in the other state. They'll have to, because they're covering both the people who would have been covered by their own plans, and those who wouldn't. Those corporations that would have benefited would stay (car manufacturers, for example), but those that employ a relatively number of expensive professionals would almost certainly be better off leaving. Considering the dwindling number of firms that provide anything like comprehensive health care, the latter probably outweigh the former.

A lot of doctors would have left, as well, chasing the bigger dollars the private insurers would be offering.

So, the universal health care state ends up in a tough bind. It has a larger number of people who want coverage, but the tax base has bailed because of the enormous freedom of movement. They can probably handle it if they're relatively prosperous, this wouldn't be apocalyptic, but what happens during a downturn?

That's when having it be state-led runs into gigantic problems. Yes, States can run a deficit, but not indefinitely; and they lack the sort of tools that the federal government enjoys to manipulate the economy in times of downturn. If things get too bad, too fast, for too long, they must cut something, and health care is a huge target. If they don't, sooner or later another party will come into power, and they will.

If you federalize the program, you're in much, much better shape. Moving from the U.S. to another country is much more difficult than switching states; the cost and hassle of doing so will almost certainly prevent people and firms from trying to leave the United States to chase a lower tax bill (or higher medical paycheque) at the expense of universal care. No emigration is likely, or at least it'll be low enough that you won't need to worry about it. In a downturn, the federal government doesn't necessarily need to hack up its budget; it can ride things out, and employ fiscal and monetary tools to ensure that, yes, eventually things will improve. Plus, if it's universal, it's far less likely that elected officials will be pressured into weakening the system, because nobody can hold the threat of emigration over their heads.
I'm glad that the debate among the left blogosphere is moving beyond the "how do we win this argument?" and on to "We're going to win this's time to start discussing details"...and it's not too surprising that Demosthenes has a pretty good grasp of the details...

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hmm . . . What Family Do These Two States Have in Common?

"Impending cuts to Medicare's home oxygen benefit will hit Florida harder than any other state, shows a data analysis. A study by Avalere Health LLC found about 19,700 Florida residents would be impacted by the change. Texas is the next hardest-hit state, with 17,400 residents affected, the study found."

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Soviets Win

Short of starting us on the path to the total surveillance society that we're now on, the Soviets probably screwed us the most by attaching "communism" to the same kind of health care system that has produced the best results in the world in Germany, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Even Canada's is better than ours. One of the strangest things to explain for future historians will be how the world's richest nation could invent such a horrible health care system for all its people. And notice how well we do on getting to see a doctor once you get to his/her office or to an emergency room. We have a lot to answer for when the final tote is done, but this is one of the biggest.

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