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« Solving the Insoluble: Controlling Costs in U.S. Health Care | Main | “Still Surprised”: A Captivating Memoir by Warren Bennis »

September 06, 2010

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davidburkus

Good post Steve. This doesn't take away from your main focus on this post, but I have to call you out for using largely irrelevant data as your opener. America's lower life expectancy is an over-used stat that fails to control for car accidents (we drive more cars than most countries) and violent crimes (we unfortunately have more of these too). When you control for these, that ranking goes WAY up. Likewise, the cost of healthcare per person is a reflection on America's willingness to pay for certain medical procedures that many countries can't or won't pay for. In a way, that number is actually something to be proud of.

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Steve Denning

David,

Thanks for your comment. I agree that there are other ways of looking at these data (or any data), which should be seen in conjunction with the data I cite in the previous post.

The idea that US spends more than any other country on health care because it chooses to is not easy to reconcile with the numbers in the previous post. Did anyone really choose to double health premiums over the last decade for little improvement in service? Does anyone really want to double premiums over the coming decade, again for little improvement in service? What the data suggests is not a conscious choice to bankrupt the nation, but rather a system that is wildly out of control.

I agree that life expectancy is not the only statistic that can be used to measure quality of health. But most of the other statistics like infant mortality also show the same result. Each individual statistic can be explained, of course, but in the end, when you look at all the statistics, and after all the explaining of all the statistics, there is still a serious problem: given the resources that the health care system is consuming, the health status of the nation is not what it should be.

Which as you note is what the post is about: what to do about the problem.

So I am hoping is that, rather than spending much time and effort trying to explain the problem away, we spend most of our energy figuring out what to do about solving the problem.

Steve

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