Friday, November 7, 2008

US Infant Mortality 29th in the World

For those who like to tout our supposedly great health care system, some facts to break up the bravado: Our infant mortality rate ranks 29th, closer to that of Costa Rica than of the Top 5, and is worse than Cuba. So what exactly is so great about that?

This is a classic example of a topic conservatives dismiss with speculation masquerading as facts. "That's because the crack mothers and those irresponsible and on welfare bring down the averages". Of course, there is never any data submitted to support this claim, and even if there was, it isn't like other countries don't have poor people to take care of too. That merely begs the question: why are they so much better at taking care of their worst off than we are? And if we restricted the data to the well-off, would we necessarily be at the top.

I await with great eagerness and little expectation for someone to show me, using actual data, not speculation, why the United States health care system should not be changed to more closely match what is done in other countries. Novelty can be a good thing, when it comes with superior results. Novelty in the face of inferior results begins to more resemble simple stubbornness than anything as noble as defense of liberty.


Wakefield Tolbert said...

Well, like that dude said on Cool Hand Luke.

"ya wants it, well then, ya gets it."

The stats have been skewed for some time. To what degree the WHO standardizations are flexed for the propangdistic joy of various nations' sales pitches is of much debate. As is the overall effect. But to say there is no effect on that very categorization differences on what constitutes a "live birth" is absurdist.

NOW, granted:

Even allowing for this, and for is generally a very suspect comparison in the first place between what are generally homogenous Euro societies and a more mixed bag of apples and oranges in the US, of course there'd still be some differences.


Well, to what end are we to take this? For example, other articles have pointed out that in some communities even with TWICE or more the health care spending in government sponsored clinics and community outreach programs, some groups are STILL faring worse that their Euro counterparts.

The problems appear to be multiple, societal, cultural, and have probably far more to do with the remains of paternalistic care leftovers from the Great Society's destruction of minority and inner city family units, supplanting the father figures and other structures with government presence, etc.

I'm quite sure that at some nexus,say, if you took 50K out of my pocked and plunked it into the bank account of a day laborer, he'd have better health care at least on an interim basis and arguably even get his misses better prenatal care along with some bass boat accessories and a new plasma TV.

No question. No argument there.


Are you then therefore making a revised pitch for socialism in medicine? The other side of the angle on socialized health care, often erroneously and carelessly cited as "universal health care" and "health is your right" and other such jibber jabber about things being free, is often fraught with its own set of problems. Euro styled socialism in medicine, along with those 33 hour work weeks and other laxities that are getting them in trouble demographically, ARE good for broken bones and patching sore throats at the free clinics for the kiddies. And? The other side of this is forced rationing. Always. There is no other way. When you manage 1/6 to 1/7th of a nation's economy under direct government auspices, edicts, and controls, you invariably cannot afford to increase the SUPPLY.

(Mr. Science boy needs to read Adam Smith's supply and demand curves to boot.)

The predictable result, never falsified (Mr. Science), is called RATIONING.

That's NOT a good thing, if "goodness" is in fact thy goal.

Rationing, boys and girls, is when you have LIMITED supply but many hands are out, so you have to pick and nip and tuck and choose WHICH expensive procedures have to be jettisoned. And they can be many. Which is why in Canada, France, and Britain if you're older than 65 and need a bandage you're in luck.

An MRI? In between category. Often MONTHS of waiting. Rather than the next DAY, here in the US.

Heart surgery over 65?

You're as good as DEAD without high level contacts.

It is NOT good enough to request of people money from Pocket A to Pocket B due to "people be a-needin'"

Which is tantamount to direct welfare transfers from Pocket A to Pocket B.

I do remember from my youth that old axiom about the sin of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in dealing with personal finances.

On the national scale, it seems Pocket A shall be Peter.

Pocket B is Paul.

Using that as a justification opens the door to anything people deem "vital" for the functioning of society, from free computers to condom handouts to free housing and free food.
That's called--yet again--socialism. Hardly a scientific way to run an economy. Those who claim not to have faith in an unseen God are not much better off when claiming the partially seen but failed on called socialism--of whom we'd also request omnipotent status in order to account for all the permutations of money and time meted out scientifically--is even more mythical.
We used to point missiles at men who advocated the Hail Marx theorem of managing human affairs.

And for good reason.

Government reimbursed healthcare costs? (And this is what we're talking here, as the real issue in the United States is not quality or availability, but COST). Forcing health insurance companies to ignore actuarial stats--i.e., REALITY--and ending "discrimination by insurance companies to the sick and those who need care the most"? Forcing premiums down? Sounds wonderful. How is the shortfall made up? By rationing, as is done in other nations that have socialized medicine, which is the ultimate direction of such talk. Government has no more money collectively than the citizenry does collectively at any particular time (unless we plan to pass health care costs to the next generation along with everything else), and can't pay for all procedures and office visits anymore than the market does, or is willing. It's just that with market solutions, as with, say, choosing to lower premiums by eschewing payments for routine office visits and paying only for catastrophic coverage, people can direct their dollars to the most likely scenarios of their expectations, lifestyle, and background. For most people it's usually better to pay out of pocket on lower cost, lower level, non-specialized, routine, or other non-emergency needs, insuring only the truly dire health issues. For the poor and indigent needing, say, maternity care, there could be a means-tested compromise on which procedures (e.g. screenings, tests, ultrasounds, prenatal checkups, etc.) would be fully or partially covered. Contrast this with some national models that handle the whole ball of wax, where sniffles and shots are handled OK, but MRIs can take months of waiting. And, if you don't meet the correct age and condition profile, your chances of heart surgery can be close to zilch. Even if scott free to YOU. Not everything in life can be covered by either system anyhow.

But I'm guessing for MOST people its deemed better to go into hock for heart surgery--and pay as you live on--than not live at all.

I love Europe, dude. Nice people. Lackluster and moronic response to the terror lords breeding among them and wacky economics. Great wines. Homey hearths. Good cheeses, which like the citizenry, can be soft and runny on occasion.
Need to work on their societal extinction stats to forestall the immigration issues and provide for their own workers for their OWN lavish social programs. Still, nice people.

But still again---not going to the Doc there.

Nor am I all that excited about forcing medicine to overarch above what are generally cultural and skewed stat pitches here.


Have a blessed holidy/solstace/kwanzaa/multi-culti Season.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

PS--I know you mentioned "liberty" at the end of your blog on this issue.

Hopefully, and keeping in mind that term has little utility in socialized medicine or socialized anything else--you'll take that word to heart.

Many thanks.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

One last thought--and then I'll shut up for the Holidays.

One of the reasons I meant to include in that epistle combining Econ 101 and healthcare is the often overlooked fact that in the US, we try our best to save every "preemie" baby (and in those stats, the premature births are one of the core reasons for our lousy stats, and this IS a real issue also related to cultural problems). Other nations typically either do NOT make such herculian efforts OR as the aticle stated, they don't consider some births to be......"live births."

Thanks again for your generous time.

Wakefield Tolbert said...