To the editor:
Mr. (Kenneth) Devoe of Greenwood has written a letter extolling the U.S. health system as the best in the world (“U.S. sets standard in medical practice,” Aug. 12) and disparaging health systems in countries with single payer healthcare systems available to its people.
He includes no statistical evidence to back his assertions. It seems obvious that he has heard the myths promulgated by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and many in the medical field who see their main goal to be making money, and has believed them without looking for meaningful statistics.
The average life span of people in a country certainly seems to be one way to evaluate the caliber of the medical system. We finish anywhere from 26th to 43rd in the studies I have found, including those by the World Health Organization.
Canada, one of the countries he cites as inferior, is ahead of us in all these studies. Infant mortality rate is another meaningful statistic. If he would check studies that rank developed countries on the basis of fewest childhood deaths, we are last or almost last among developed nations. Even Cuba has greater success in this area.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the third leading cause of deaths in the United States is medical errors, estimated to be more than 250,000 deaths per year.
Finally, it is interesting to check the cost per capita of medical care in other nations. According to information from multiple sources, we spend about three times per person (just over $9,000) as opposed to the average spent by other developed nations (just over $3,000). The most by any other country is almost $3,000 less than we spend.
We certainly have great medical facilities in this country, and for those who are very wealthy and have no concern about the cost of medications and other medical care, there is nothing to complain about. However, for most of us, our health care system is in need of great changes; and the single payer option would be very beneficial.