Another bogus report card for U.S. medical care

The Commonwealth Fund's latest comparison of the U.S. medical system with five other wealthy nations' systems is biased because it assumes America "underperforms" because we don't have enough government intervention, says news correspondent John Stossel.

But while the U.S. lost points for not having national health insurance, the authors added that the insured do have rapid access to specialised health care services. That's an understatement, says Stossel:

  • Outcomes for such diseases as prostate and breast cancer in the United States are markedly better than in Canada's and Britain's socialised systems.

  • When internists ranked the world's top 10 medical innovations, eight were developed thanks to American innovations.

  • Further, the focus of the study on the 45 million uninsured is exaggerated; the statistics represent a snapshot, and many uninsured people are reinsured in less than a year.

    More ridiculous is the arbitrary way the Commonwealth Fund assigns weight to each of its measures, says Stossel:

  • The proportion of patients who say they got infected at a hospital counts about the same in the "quality" measure as the proportion of doctors who use automated computer systems to remind them to tell patients their test results.

  • The study's authors also consider having high administrative costs and spending the largest share of gross domestic product (GDP) on health care is worse than having the highest share of patients who wait four months or more for surgery.

  • Finally, the study penalises nations for having large numbers of patients who spent more than $1,000 on medical care out of pocket, as if third-party payment is somehow superior.

    Source: John Stossel, Another Bogus Report Card for U.S. Medical Care,, August 29, 2007.

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    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 04 September 2007
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