When health care in the United States is compared to the care in other modern societies, the general rule of thumb is that the United States leads the world in subspecialty care provided, but lags behind in more routine care. The United States does a great job of performing coronary artery bypass grafts, but does not do as good a job as the Europeans in treating the risk factors which lead to heart disease. The conservative blogosphere, showing its typical tendency to cherry pick facts to support their ideology while ignoring the big picture, is latching on to a study today to attack Democratic health care proposals.
Ed Morrissey and McQ quote this article from The Telegraph which shows that cancer patients in the United States have earlier access to a specific drug. They twist this to suggest that this single parameter can be used to meaningfully compare the health care systems in the United States and Europe. I’m certain that there are many other parameters in which the United States beats Europe in such subspecialty care–but such subspecialty care has never been what the complaints about American health care have centered on.
Starting with colon cancer, it would be more interesting to compare the number of people who have access to colonoscopies and other cancer screening. The United States would be at a tremendous disadvantage with 45 million uninsured and many more under insured. This leads to another consequence of hour health care system. Many people do get the subspecialty care they need, but are forced to go into bankruptcy to pay for it–often when they already have health insurence.
The goal of reforming the health care system is duplicate the benefits from the best of the systems of other countries while avoiding the problems noted in articles such as this. Conservatives are great at cherry picking facts and finding reasons why we cannot change for the better. Liberals are necessary to find ways to make necessary improvements.