Posted by Bill Sandweg on 31 May 2017.
Researchers have developed a new tool for assessing the effectiveness of a health care system and we in the United States aren’t doing so well. The concept is called “amenable mortality.” It identifies medical conditions which cause death but which, with good medical care, can be addressed so as to reduce the likelihood of death. Despite the fact that we in the United States spend more per person on health care than any other country in the world, we rank around 20th on the list. Way too many of us are dying from causes that can be treated. We are on a par with Montenegro and Estonia, two perfectly good countries but two countries in whose company we would rather not be when the issue is the quality of health care. It also clear from the statistics that we are falling further and further behind other leading industrialized countries.
We do well with illnesses which can be addressed with vaccines (so long as the anti-vaxxers don’t get their way) but we are in failing grade territory for diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, neonatal conditions, ischemic heart disease, non-melanoma skin cancer and, wait for it, the adverse effects of medical treatment itself – in other words medical malpractice. We do a much better job of preventing the victims of medical malpractice from being fairly compensated for their injuries than we do preventing malpractice in the first place.
In addition to learning that our overall health care ranks far down in the world, researchers also discovered that it varies greatly from location to location. Much of this variation appears to be linked to income inequality: the greater the income inequality in an area, the more likely its residents are to die of medical conditions which can be treated.
We deserve better. Why are Canada, Great Britain, Germany and France so far ahead of us in preventing death? Maybe the answer is to stop doing what we have been doing and asking what other countries are doing that is allowing them to pull further ahead of us. Here is a hint: Don’t enact new laws that throw over 20 million people off health insurance and expect them to live longer.