Posted by | March 3, 2011 14:48 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

A new study has come out that measures the efficacy of a nation’s health care system.  It takes the new approach of asking how many people (as a percentage of the population) die unnecessarily from diseases that should be preventable.  This controls for the fact that different countries have different incidences of particular illnesses. Out of 31 countries surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States comes in 24th.  Why?  Hahn and Passell explain:

The US numbers are wretched for a variety of reasons? Hospitals lack adequate error-containment systems; physicians fail at continuing education; patients are rarely badgered to take their pills; and so on. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that, unlike practically all of other OECD countries, a lot of US residents lack insurance. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a fix that puts us in the same league as northern Europe that didn’t require more Americans to buy (or be given) coverage.

If more people have health insurance, more people will live longer.  There are cheaper and there are more expensive ways of getting there, and legitimate arguments about how to get there.  But if we don’t get there, the cost is in lives.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.