Cherry Picking Health Care Data

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.

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Clint says:

    You blame conservatives for cherry-picking facts. I noticed that your article took no such risks. Not a fact to be found. You sure dodged that bullet!

    P.S. In Canada my dog has to wait less time for an x-ray than I do, because pet medical care is *gasp* private. Think about that before you declare that colonoscopies are easier to come by in a nationalized system.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    If you want facts, you might read the post and follow the links, then look at the other articles in the Health Care tag here.

    I guess considering facts would be too difficult. Its far easier to just say there are no facts and pretend they aren’t there, and then throw out a strawman argument. The goal is not to get Americans into a nationalized health care system, but to find ways for those currently without coverage to get the same quality of coverage which others have.

    This is one post responding to one falacious argument making the rounds today on the conservative blogs today, demonstrating the twisting of information which is common place among conservatives. I see you are unable to refute that point. Other posts discuss other comparble misuse of science, and others go more into the health care problems in this country.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Geting back to colon cancer screening–looking at humans as opposed to Clint’s dog–in the United States, Medicare covers fecal occult blood testing, screening sigmoidoscopies, and colonoscopies. That’s the government program.

    In contrast, some private insurances cover such screening, but a large number of private insurances I deal with will not cover screening tests. Of course the 45 million who are uninsured also have no coverage for such screening.

    In comparing data between the United States and Europe, it should also be considered that Europe has been engaged in a major push to increase cancer screening and improve treatment the last few years and I expect their stats to improve. In contrast, the number of uninsured in the United States continues to increase, with dramatic increases during the Bush years. If these trends continue, the statistical edge that the United States has over Europe in cancer treatment will probably be eliminated. Subspecialty care in the US is typically among the best in the world, but access to such care has been declining.

    As for waiting time for x-rays, if we ignore Clint’s strawman argument, every Medicare patient I ordered an x-ray on yesterday could have had the x-ray done the same day if they chose. No waiting time at all in this govenment program. (In some cases, although not in any I ordered yesterday, there might be a delay if a prep is required or if the patient has to be NPO.)

  4. 4
    Bubba says:

    “Liberals are necessary to find ways to make necessary improvements.”

    Too bad that the “improvements” the they dig up never solve the problem. Instead, the “improvements” almost always make things worse.

    But what the heck…. why let that sort of thing stand in the way of a little social agenda grandstanding, right?

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    I note you have no examples of what makes things worse, while in previous posts I’ve reviewed conservative suggestions showing that those plans actually do make things worse.

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