Thursday, January 24, 2013

Facts about America's Health Care Quality that the World Doesn't Know

An oft-cited rationale for the Affordable Care Act is that Americans have poor access to quality health care. In reality, a variety of other factors, such as disease and lifestyle, are the real reasons why Americans have lower life expectancies despite our advanced medical technology, says Scott W. Atlas, the David and Joan Traitel senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

  • Obesity is the epidemic linked to a greater risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
  • More than 33 percent of Americans are considered obese, compared to 17.1 percent of Western Europeans.
  • Japan has a very low rate of obesity, only 3.4 percent, and also the greatest longevity.
  • The United States also has a very high incidence of cigarette smoking, which negatively affects health outcomes.

Despite these burdens, American cancer patients survive at much higher rates that their European counterparts in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Indeed, for breast cancer, the mortality rate in Germany is 52 percent higher and in the United Kingdom it is 88 percent higher than in the United States. For prostate cancer, the mortality rates are even worse.

More Americans with heart disease receive medication or are operated on for their condition.

  • Americans have twice as many bypass procedures and four times as many angioplasties when compared to 10 Western European nations (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
  • Evidence suggests that Americans actually benefit from this extra treatment, with a longer five-year survival rate than Canadians who have a nationalized health system.

The United States also has a lower death rate from strokes, most likely due to modern therapy that expanded in America far quicker than it did under nationalized insurance.

  • Less than 50 percent of high blood pressure patients go untreated in the United States compared with the 66 percent to 75 percent that go untreated in Canada and Europe, respectively.
  • The United States is much more effective at controlling blood pressure through its better hypertension treatment delivery.

Source: Scott W. Atlas, "Facts about America's Health Care Quality that the World Doesn't Know," Fox News, January 15, 2013.