Monday, June 16, 2014

Health Care in the United States of America: It's Simple, Ignore the Data

In November of last year the dizzying nonsense about defunding Obama Care was still hanging in the air like so much smoke from a recently doused camp fire. On the 14th of that month NBC quoted the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner as saying, "This (The Affordable Care Act) is going to destroy the best health care delivery system in the world."

He was either misinformed, or out right lying because the statement the Speaker made seven months ago was demonstrably wrong then and still is now.

The Commonwealth Fund was established in 1918 by Anna M. Harkness with an initial gift of around $10 million, a really big wad of cash back in those days. She could afford it. According to Wikipedia she was the widow of Stephen Harkness who was a principal share holder in Standard Oil. The motto of the organization is, "A private foundation working toward a high performing health system."

Nowadays The Commonwealth Fund examines health care systems, both here and abroad using statistics from The World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and their own research. They also issue a yearly report.

The 2014 study looked at health care in the U.S. the U.K. Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia. It compared things like, cost, efficiency, access, fairness of care levels, and the overall health of the citizens in those eleven countries.

Take one guess where the good ol' U.S. of A. ranked. If you said dead last you'd be correct, although it shouldn't come as a surprise. Similar studies during 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 found we were last then too.

Some other tidbits pointed out by The Commonwealth Fund are these:

37% of Americans won't go to a doctor when they are ill, won't follow recommended care, and will either not get a prescription filled, or will fail to dose themselves properly because of cost concerns. That is compared to 6% of Swedes and 4% of the British.

23% of Americans either have a serious problem paying medical bills, or can't pay them at all. In France that number is 13%. In Norway, Sweden, and the U.K. it is 6%, or less.

The average health care cost per capita in the United States is $8,508. In Norway it is $5,669. It keeps going down from there. If you live in the U.K. the price is, $3,405.

The fact is, the study found the big bugaboo of all things republican, nationalized medicine, consistently outperforms the American system. So much so, Canada is the only nation on the list where patients average a longer waiting time to see a doctor than Americans do.

Well, you'll never be able to accuse John Boehner in particular, and the republicans in general of letting a few hard facts get in the way of a good solid sound bite. Indeed, ignore the data and plow ahead as if it doesn't exist.The truth is guys like Ted Cruz and the rest will look at these findings and simply claim they're a bunch of lies perpetrated by a liberal outfit who is pro ACA. For one it is the path of least resistance and secondly, the idiots on the far right will believe anything they say, no matter how crazy.

Think not? At one point last year Senator Cruz went on a talk show and told CBS' Bob Schieffer he never wanted to shut down the government over Obamacare--that the whole big mess was caused by the democrats who refused to compromise. He even did it with a straight face, something Schieffer couldn't maintain as he listened to Cruz's prima facie bullshit. He spent half the interview smiling incredulously as he reminded the senator of his vile threats to shut down the entire government of the United States unless he got his way. Ultimately, Schieffer did have the class to avoid something many of us would have jumped on in a New York minute. It was telling Ted Cruz the marathon faux filibuster he staged in opposition to Obamacare was the greatest act of egotism ever witnessed in the senate. That it was nothing more than a putrid attempt to make him a super star on the right edge of everything..

In that bizarre interview, it was like we were listening to a torturer blame his victim for the indescribable pain and suffering. "That's right, baby, I told you before I started gutting you like a boated tuna all you had to do is agree with me, but you didn't, so this blood on my hands is completely your fault." For me the interview was a breathtaking instant of clarity. It was the moment when I realized, without a doubt, Rafael Edward Cruz is utterly insane.

It drives Americans absolutely nuts to think someone else might be better at something--anything--than we are. The reason the Affordable Care Act was passed in the first place was to eventually pull us even with other industrialized nations when it comes to health care. Tragically, however, when vast numbers of us are confronted with evidence we're not the best, instead of accepting it and trying to improve, we just wallow in bluster and denial. In the end, the only thing the shrill caterwauling accomplishes is to convince the rest of the world we are, collectively, the oldest and most spoiled adolescent the planet has ever seen.

Meanwhile, the sick keep getting sicker and the medical bills, many people can't possibly pay, keep piling up like autumn leaves falling from elms and oaks.

This is another hard fact yokels like Boehner and Cruz like to ignore--because ultimately, according to them, it is better to let the uninsured die in the streets rather than admit we're wrong.

sic vita est


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