Third Party & Independents Archives

US ranks 33rd in the world in infant mortality

A recent report by Save the Children ranked the United States 33rd in the world in infant mortality, tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of about 5 per 1,000 babies; Latvia’s rate is 6 per 1,000. We are slipping; we were 28th in the world in 1998. At the end of life, US ranks 48th in life expectancy, below Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A comparison of per capita GNI (PCGNI) provided by the World Bank for 2004 produces a different ranking (in $US): US $41,440, Hungary ($8,370), Malta ($12,050), Poland ($6,100), Slovakia ($14,770) and Bosnia and Herzegovina ($2,040). How can a country with a PCGNI 14% of the US have the same infant mortality as the US and one with 9% of the US's PCGNI have a longer life expectancy Does a shorter lifespan and higher infant mortality reflect the best healthcare in the world? Does a shorter lifespan and higher infant mortality reflect the best healthcare in the world? This is becoming a drain on the US economy.

The CDC claims,” This ranking is due in large part to disparities which continue to exist among various racial and ethnic groups in this country, particularly African Americans”. If this is to believed, African Americans are worse off than the people in Guadeloupe, which ranks 44th in life expectancy and 19% of the United States’ PCGNI.

These disparities are not the root cause of the failure of the health delivery in the US. Simply stated, there is no universal health care in one of the wealthiest economies in the world. Costs are increased by the effort required to submit claims to insurance companies, the failure to spread the risk over the entire population and failure to focus upon building a healthier population rather than higher profits for a limited number of companies.

Previous attempts at health care reform have failed due, in large part, to the successful lobbying efforts of insurers and health care providers. In their desire to satisfy investors and attract more business, insurance companies cut costs by withholding services on the statistical assumption that the those few whose health declines or die are worth the risk. In one case, an insurance company withheld treatment and pain medication for a back injury by doctor shopping. The individual was sent to no less than eight physicians until one was found who said nothing was wrong. A court order forced them to cover surgery. If treated earlier, this drastic action might have been avoided; the individual would have not been forced to endure pain and would have been able to return to work years earlier. The cost? Lost productivity for the individual for over two years. The legal fees, physician and medical costs contributed to higher premiums.

This is becoming a drain on the US economy. How can we expect the US to compete with other countries when a significant percentage of the cost of goods and services results from increased insurance premiums? Passing the cost onto workers is not a solution; it only delays the treatment of health problems, resulting in increased absences.

But, say the critics, look at the quality of healthcare in countries with universal healthcare. The statistics noted above do not reflect this assumption. If people were to pay into a universal health care system on a level comparable to the costs of private healthcare, the problems quoted would not exist. In other countries, the equivalent of premiums paid to universal health care system does not even come close to our insurance premiums. Ask any company if the insurance premiums for an individual are less than $6,000 a year, the PCGNI of countries such as Poland? The answer would be no. We pay more in healthcare premiums than the PCGNI of countries with better healthcare. Are we getting value for our investment?

Lower health care costs in other countries account, in part, to lower wages. This encourages outsourcing, reducing job opportunities and draining the technical superiority of the US, particularly in the IT industry. If the US is to remain self sufficient, reduce unemployment, staunch the drain of US capital and reestablish its financial independence action is required now.

The time has come to enter the twentieth century, even though we are in the twenty first. Universal health coverage will only occur when politicians develop “backbone,” standing up to the business interests of insurers, drug companies and other health care providers. Both parties are guilty. We will, hopefully see a change in the 2006 elections by electing those who support a strong US economy and a healthy population.

Posted by M.L. Schneider at May 10, 2006 10:02 AM
Comment #146971

So much for having the best health care in the world that money can buy. Apparently far too many Americans can’t afford it, eh? Just chalk it up to the Republican version of abortion. Less future indigent welfare recipients that way.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 10, 2006 4:39 PM
Comment #147060

But our republican led congress is in the process of fixing this problem arent they? Isnt there a bill that would negate the 50 states and all their different laws thereby making insurance more affordable? Are you saying this wouldnt solve the problem?

Posted by: j2t2 at May 10, 2006 9:18 PM
Comment #147115

j2t2, I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not.

For sure dropping requirements that health insurance cover basic tests like mammograms and childhood physicals would make it cheaper for the insurance companies, but there’s no guarantee they’d pass the savings along to the consumer.

Plus, if you drop all the basic tests meant to prevent medical problems before they become expensive to treat, you’re really raising the cost of healthcare for families when they get hit with those problems later.

Plus again, if the insurance drops coverage for these basic tests, it’s not really quality healthcare at all.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 10, 2006 11:18 PM
Comment #147130

American Pundit, yes I was being sarcastic. I thought this bill was counterproductive to quality healthcare. I think letting insurancde companies write laws for republicans should be against the law. No I cant prove that that is what happened with this bill, but when it reeks that bad …

Posted by: j2t2 at May 11, 2006 12:41 AM
Comment #147160

Folks, 98,000 people died in 2004 directly from medical practice errors and incompetence in this country. You want to reduce the cost of health care and insurance, pass some laws that remove these people from the Health Care profession. No fault insurance for car accidents is one thing, Republican’s concept of no fault medical care which kills and keeps on practicing is quite another which costs, costs and keeps on costing in litigation, insurance premiums and years of seeking justice by the families who lose a loved one at the hands of medical professional incompetence and greed. Jamming 6 operations into a doctor’s day 6 days a week so the Doc, et. al, can buy 3 Lexus’s next year, is partially responsible for everything from wrongful death to wrong limbs and organs being removed while the patient is helplessly under sedation and unconscious to represent themself.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 11, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #147180

So what’s the answer? I know know one has it totally, but I have heard many here. Is it universal health care and if so what effect would universal healthcare have on illegal immigration? Would it put more of a pressure onto the taxpayer?

Part of me says this is too big of a bureaucratic issue for the federal gov’t to handle, that the states should do it; it would be much easier to manage, but then again the red tape that that would create, I agree is really hard to handle now. I just don’t see a way to create universal health care without raising taxes.

Posted by: Steve C. at May 11, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #147237

Here are a few quotes from the ACTUAL REPORT:

“A recent study found U.S. newborn death rates are highest among minorities, even when mothers have early and equal access to prenatal care.”

“Mothers on lower socioeconomic levels, with less education, have been found to be at significantly higher risk of pre-term delivery, even when controlling for other known risk factors such as weight prior to pregnancy, weight gain, alcohol and tobacco consumption, race, parity and source of prenatal care.”

“The seventh annual Mothers’ Index helps document conditions for mothers and children in 125 countries – 26 developed nations and 99 in the developing world – and shows where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships. All countries for which sufficient data were available are included in the Index.” - US ranks 10th, tied with GREAT BRITAIN, right after Canada and before Japan, all of whom have socialized medicine.

Maybe the answer isn’t as clear cut as this article would have us all think.

Posted by: sandalwood at May 11, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #147297

Steve C., raising the minimum wage would be a good start which would put upward pressure on wages in most other low and middle class income jobs. This would help lower and middle class households better afford the health care inflation which is running amok. Halt illegal immigration. Little explanation should be necessary.

2nd, and this will be controversial, a mixed two tiered medical system is the only way American can go politically. Politically, a nationalized health care system is not in the cards. Economically, it would carry with it much of the same baggage other total universal health care systems carry in other countries. What is called for is universal health care for those who realistically cannot afford health care on their own. This would provide minimal but broad coverage for preventive medicine, coverage for non-elective medical procedures which threaten life or limb for adults, and which threaten growth and normal development for children. Finally, the universal tier would NOT provide long term-catastrophic care, but would provide hospice care for the terminally ill.

Above this tier would remain our current privatized health care system with some reforms. First reform, put real teeth into licensing control and review to increase health care quality and reduce malpractice litigation. Second reform, establish medical malpractice review courts. Literally build a court system of professionals with both medical and law degrees and hire them to sit on courts of review to screen and throw out frivolous or deceptive medical suits. Third, cap malpractice awards filed by any who received medical care under the universal health care system to a certain amount above and beyond actual damage awards. Fourth reform, tax breaks to employers who provide health care, which I believe we are already doing. Fifth reform, force government employees including elected officers onto the universal health care system or leave them to their own private health care from their own pockets. The incentive to insure a quality universal health care system can only be produced by this kind of reform.

Allow government employees and lower middle class citizens to purchase supplemental private insurance to beef up their coverage while on the national universal health care system. Once a person or family has reached median income level, they will no longer be eligible for the nationalized health care program. Final reform, hold health care and insurance top management legally liable for collusion in padding medical expenses or misdiagnosis resulting in unnecessary or fraudulent billing practices to be determined by the medical courts.

How’s that for a starter plan?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 11, 2006 2:54 PM
Comment #147380

David – I agree that a medical malpractice review court system is called for. Cases should be treated in the same way as first degree murder. The special courts would issue a statement of finding, answering the question: was or wasn’t there malpractice. The second phase would be a jury trial where the award was issue. I don’t agree on a cap. What size of an award should be issues for a 15 year old girl who, as a result of malpractice, was unable to have children? It would affect her choice of spouse as well as cause pain every time a friend had a child.

As to controlling physicians who regularly are found to be guilty of malpractice. Treat them as if they were a driver. Increase their premiums. For second and third time offenders, the premium could high enough to keep them from the practice of medicine. Or, have the universal health care system exclude a third time offender from participation. Let the market sort out the good from the bad. Have premiums based upon the quality of service, not the area in which they practice.

We pay for illegal immigrants as well as the uninsured through higher premiums. Premiums are lowered when the risk is spread over the entire population. Today, premiums can cost more than housing for many.

We are not receiving value for money. Our premiums are the highest in the industrialized world while we live shorter.

Posted by: M.L. Schneider at May 11, 2006 8:04 PM
Comment #147473

M.L. Schneider and David R. Remer: excellent posts! Thank you for helping to keep this issue on the front burner of WatchBlog Awareness!

(And notice the Eerie Silence from the Right: was that a tumbleweed I just saw blow through from the Red Zone?)

Insurance should be illegal, and Healthcare should be a Right. Why suffer a Government to exist, if it does not serve the Needs of the Governed?

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 12, 2006 12:47 AM
Comment #147611

Insurance is a corrupt and bizarre beast. The first principle of insurance is that customers bet against themselves. If a customer is not anticipating loss, they won’t be a customer. Why pay for nothing?

Now insurance, found all the way back to the Ancient Greeks and shipping losses on the tumultuous Aegean Sea, has a place. The shippers of Greece sought to share the losses so they could all be insured of staying in business and that there suppliers, also in the shipping business, stayed in business as well. This is the value and asset of insurance.

The Corruption: Personal insurance is in great part a whole other animal. Personal insurance is in fact for those who bet on loss occuring to them. Health insurance for example. Why does one need to take inordinate measures to brush their teeth, eat healthy home prepared foods, and drive at the speed limit staying vigilant to the road, when they have insurance? With insurance, one can talk on their cell phone, eat a fast food burger, and change the radio station all while travelling 15 miles per hour over the speed limit and weaving around the slow pokes. They can do this because 1) if they have an accident it is NO FAULT, and 2) they are insured, and 3) the government has insured everyone pays a premium called taxes for insuring auto manufacturers produce ever safer vehicles to protect against drivers I cite above.

Living life carefully, responsibly, and cautiously is subverted by the widespread availability of insurance. But where the concept gets really corrupt is in the pervasive underlying support the entire society and government lends to insurance advertising and promotion even mandating it by law. Insurers absolutely love the concept of actuarial studies in order to target those who do live carefully and cautiously and have minimal need for insurance to become premium paying customers to underwrite the risk takers who insurance companies must keep paying for.

America has completely lost awareness and memory of a concept prevalent just 50 years ago, called self-insurance. The other word for it was Savings Accounts, or Rainy Day Savings. Having lost that concept, America has become the most grotesquely and largest debtor nation in the world. We have all become risk takers, and risk we all love to take is indebtedness.

Good Day, and Good Interest!

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 12, 2006 11:43 AM
Comment #147726

David, For many people the cost of open heart surgery in excess of $100,000 is more than they earn in two years. Savings just doesn’t make it. If it were possible to file for bankruptcy it might be a different story, but than is now impossible.

Posted by: M.L. Schneider at May 12, 2006 5:44 PM
Comment #147952

Re: the accusation that conservatives never show up here: howdy.

Yes, David’s plan is somewhat politically feasible, with a couple missing tidbits - a way for phasing out the plan (subsidies) for familes reaching median-income levels, and a price tag. Where’s the money coming from? Don’t tell me it will come from raising income taxes, or I’m against it.

Some ideas (which don’t all fit in the category of “politically feasible”):

-Legalize drugs and tax the hell out of them.

-Let immigrants work, but tax them, and don’t provide social services for them unless they’re paying taxes.

-Raise the retirement age for collecting SS benefits.

-(If you’re a liberal) raise gas taxes another $0.50, or (if you’re a conservative) auction off our national road system for private ownership and control.

-(If you’re a socialist hippie) nationalize the assets of the richest 1% of Americans, or (if you’re a warmonger) annexe Canada, and let Canadians pay for it. They already pay exorbitant taxes, and won’t care if they have to pay a little more.

-Introduce public insurance, but sunset it - this might cause national riots. In the interim, fund by one of the above measures.

Obviously I’m completely serious about all of these :)

Posted by: Gandhi at May 13, 2006 2:52 PM
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