The State of the Healthcare System

February 2002, Warren Matthews


You may recollect that in our last issue we examined the 3rd biggest cause of death in the US. I also said that within our next issue we would have a look at some facts concerning the US healthcare system.

You may recollect that in our last issue we examined the 3rd biggest cause of death in the US. I also said that within our next issue we would have a look at some facts concerning the US healthcare system.

To those readers who live in other parts of the world I apologize for devoting this and the previous issue to US data. However, there are some facts in this issue which could relate to your country.

You get what you pay for... don’t you?

We all know the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’. This is generally true! But, does it hold true for ‘Health Care’ in the USA? If it does then the US should without doubt have the best health care in the world! Health care in the US is the most expensive in the world.

The general perception in the US is that the high cost of health care, although a negative is offset by the assumption that the more expensive the care the better the health results are likely to be.

But is it?

Let’s review a few facts, as published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) 26th July 2000.

In a study of 13 Countries based on 16 health indicators the USA ranked 12th, in other words 2nd from the bottom.

The Countries that were part of the study are listed below. Their rankings were based on their average health indicators. The best performing countries are at the top with the worst at the bottom:

The Netherlands,
United Kingdom,

The indicators...

The nine health indicators that were used in the study are as follows. The number preceding each indicator is the ranking given the USA for that particular indicator:

  • 13th (last) for low birth weight percentages.
  • 13th for neonatal mortality and infant mortality overall.
  • 11th for postneonatal mortality.
  • 13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external causes).
  • 11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for males.
  • 10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th for males.
  • 7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 9th for males.
  • 3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for males.
  • 10th for age-adjusted mortality.

I would imagine that these results will come as a surprise to most of our readers. I am confident that the figures are accurate otherwise I am sure they would not have been published in JAMA. They are also backed up by a further report from the World Health Organization. (WHO).

Why are the statistics so bad?

The obvious question is why does the US appear to be performing so badly? There are schools of thought that blame these figures on a perception that the American public ‘behaves badly’ by smoking and drinking. But, with a little bit of research it can easily be proven that this perception is wrong.

Consider the following statistics that easily ‘debunks’ that theory:

Let’s first look at smoking: The percentage of females in the above group of countries who smoke range from 14% in Japan to 41% in Denmark. In the US the percentage is 24% (fifth best). For men, the range is 26% in Sweden to 61% in Japan. In the US the percentage of men that smoke is 28% (third best). Given the high number of smokers in Japan and the fact that their ranking is #1 in health may indicate that smoking is not as big a ‘bogey man’ as is made out. Note: I do not condone smoking and certainly do not recommend it. Just making an observation!

OK, what about drinking... alcohol that is.

Well the US doesn’t do so badly here either. The statistics place the US around fifth best. Maybe the problem is fat? After all, for years now mainstream medicine has been pushing the benefits of a low fat diet. Maybe Americans have not taken heed of this advice and are still eating to much fat and that is why the overall ranking is so bad.

But no, that doesn’t appear to be the problem either! Once again the US ranks high in the area of low animal fat consumption which brings it in at fifth overall.

So, if Americans do not drink, smoke or eat animal fats to excess, PLUS have the most expensive health care system in the world, why does the US rank so poorly in the ‘health stakes’?

Questions... but no answers!

You now have the facts but not the answer to the question. You may wonder why I have even raised this subject given that there is no conclusive answer. The reason I did is to give you something to think about and ponder over because if you are an American these facts do affect you one way or the other, whether it be your wealth or your health! By being aware of the facts you may be able to play a part in improving the situation.

I could finish off this newsletter now and leave you to mull over these facts, but I am sure that I would get some emails asking for an opinion as to what I think is causing this sad state of affairs... so, I’ll give it to you now. Keep in mind that we are now moving away from fact and into the world of speculation and opinion. If you have had enough and don’t want to hear any more…skip the next section and scroll down to check out if you have won the last free product sweepstake!

An opinion

For those readers still with us, here is my opinion on this subject for what it is worth...

I am only going to relate my thoughts re the health care system. I will look at what I believe to be the main culprits in poor health in our next issue.

The high cost of health care and the overall poor level of effectiveness in health care of the population are in my opinion both symptoms of the fundamental ‘principles’ upon which the health care system has now evolved to. Until these ‘principles’ change I believe that the expense of running the ‘health care’ system will continue to grow out of control and become less effective.

What’s wrong with the ‘principles’ of the system?

This current system is primarily one based on intervention medical techniques centered around treatment primarily with drugs, or removal of body parts. Refer to our article dated the 16th January 2002. ‘The two sides of medicine’. This system can create cascade effects due to drug side effects which in turn are treated by more drugs that create a never ending vicious circle. This could be one of the reasons why the number of employees to hospital beds in the US is one of the highest in the world. It takes a lot more people to look after patients who are heavily drugged.

Until mainstream medicine puts much more emphasis on prevention of disease and the maintenance of good health this situation will not improve and costs will continue to escalate.

Can it be improved?

Will it improve? Certainly not in the near future! Too many people have too big a financial stake in ‘poor’ health and the current treatment protocols. Imagine the financial impact on the medical industry if all of a sudden people stopped having heart attacks, there was no more cancer, diabetes was history etc, etc. Not very good if you own shares in a pharmaceutical company, a high tech medical equipment supplier or a private health care provider!

This situation will only change when the majority of people start looking at health differently. When they take the time to ask their physicians why they are prescribing certain treatments and question them as to the cause of their health problem. If their physician can’t give a satisfactory truthful answer they need to find one who can.

If people looked after their bodies as well as they looked after their cars the health system would not be in the mess it is today and the pharmaceutical companies would not have such a strong grip on the industry. Do you know anyone that puts sugar in the gas tank of their car? I doubt it... they know it wouldn’t run for long if they did.

Although it will take time I have confidence that ultimately change will take place for the benefit of the entire population, but it has to come from enlightened individuals... hopefully the readers of this newsletter amongst others.

If you see the logic in these opinions that I have just expressed make them known to others. Who knows, little by little changing public attitudes will filter through to mainstream medicine and we may see some change.

That’s enough for now. Next issue we will examine some of the fundamental reasons why most people are unhealthy and overweight.

Until then,

In good health,

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