The US Health Care System – Values and Priorities


9-13-09, 10:14 am

Muskegon, Mich. – The current battles over American health care system are indicative of a wider philosophical and social divide. What is at stake, and what is the desired outcome of each side? First we must look at the current health care system as it exists in the United States. The World Health Organization ranks the US health care system well below most of Europe, Canada and Japan. France and Italy rank at number one and two while the U.S. is at #37. Most of the countries that rank above the U.S. have some form of socialized health care system. Japan, which ranks 10th on the WHO list, is at #1 in life expectancy at 74.5 years while the US is 24th in life expectancy, again below Europe, Canada and Australia as well.

An oft repeated declaration is that the US has the best health care in the world, and that people from all over the world come here for health care, such as the King of Jordan who went to Mayo Clinic recently for surgery. This happens, if they can afford to do so. US citizens do the same, Richard DeVos, co-founder of AMWAY and a staunch Republican, went to England for a heart transplant, and talk show host Charlie Rose went to France for heart surgery. These options of course do not exist for most Americans.

The disruptions and shows of 'righteous indignation' at town hall meetings need a closer look too. News reports indicate that those disrupting the town halls of specific Democratic members of Congress were largely staged by combination's of HMO employees bussed to the town halls for the purpose of disruption and distortion along with 'FOX NEWS' zealots who believe capitalism and business interests should come before people's health. Misinformation and lies as well as a lack of knowledge about the benefits of universal health care about Obama's health care plans swayed a lot of opinion polls. The right's repeated comparison of Obama's proposed changes to Nazism was especially ridiculous. The Nazi comparisons are generally a bad idea for public discourse but there is an area that somewhat fits. During the Nazi era particular businesses were given greater privilege and leeway over the well being of people and their rights, the most well known of these were I.G. Farben and Krupp. It was a clear cut idea and system where profit (and of course power) took precedence over people. Like a boomerang the Nazi comparison idea...well you get the idea.

In a recent interview, Dr. James Jackson, a well known Muskegon, Michigan physician and community activist, stated that the problem in America's health care is that 'it is based on capitalism; it puts people second and money first.' When asked if HMOs had a legitimate place in American health care he said 'absolutely not.' About Obama's health care ideas Dr. Jackson said it has some problems, he said 'if it does not include single payer it will continue the same problems that we currently have'.

In the ongoing battle for truth, justice and values people should always be valued BEFORE and ABOVE profits.

Below is a chart from the World Health Organization ranking health care systems around the World.

---------------------------------------- The World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems. Source: WHO World Health Report Rank Country

1 France 2 Italy 3 San Marino 4 Andorra 5 Malta 6 Singapore 7 Spain 8 Oman 9 Austria 10 Japan 11 Norway 12 Portugal 13 Monaco 14 Greece 15 Iceland 16 Luxembourg 17 Netherlands 18 United Kingdom 19 Ireland 20 Switzerland 21 Belgium 22 Colombia 23 Sweden 24 Cyprus 25 Germany 26 Saudi Arabia 27 United Arab Emirates 28 Israel 29 Morocco 30 Canada 31 Finland 32 Australia 33 Chile 34 Denmark 35 Dominica 36 Costa Rica 37 United States of America 38 Slovenia 39 Cuba 40 Brunei 41 New Zealand 42 Bahrain 43 Croatia 44 Qatar 45 Kuwait 46 Barbados 47 Thailand 48 Czech Republic 49 Malaysia 50 Poland 51 Dominican Republic 52 Tunisia 53 Jamaica 54 Venezuela 55 Albania 56 Seychelles 57 Paraguay 58 South Korea 59 Senegal 60 Philippines 61 Mexico 62 Slovakia 63 Egypt 64 Kazakhstan 65 Uruguay 66 Hungary 67 Trinidad and Tobago 68 Saint Lucia 69 Belize 70 Turkey 71 Nicaragua 72 Belarus 73 Lithuania 74 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 75 Argentina 76 Sri Lanka 77 Estonia 78 Guatemala 79 Ukraine 80 Solomon Islands 81 Algeria 82 Palau 83 Jordan 84 Mauritius 85 Grenada 86 Antigua and Barbuda 87 Libya 88 Bangladesh 89 Macedonia 90 Bosnia-Herzegovina 91 Lebanon 92 Indonesia 93 Iran 94 Bahamas 95 Panama 96 Fiji 97 Benin 98 Nauru 99 Romania 100 Saint Kitts and Nevis 101 Moldova 102 Bulgaria 103 Iraq 104 Armenia 105 Latvia 106 Yugoslavia 107 Cook Islands 108 Syria 109 Azerbaijan 110 Suriname 111 Ecuador 112 India 113 Cape Verde 114 Georgia 115 El Salvador 116 Tonga 117 Uzbekistan 118 Comoros 119 Samoa 120 Yemen 121 Niue 122 Pakistan 123 Micronesia 124 Bhutan 125 Brazil 126 Bolivia 127 Vanuatu 128 Guyana 129 Peru 130 Russia 131 Honduras 132 Burkina Faso 133 Sao Tome and Principe 134 Sudan 135 Ghana 136 Tuvalu 137 Ivory Coast 138 Haiti 139 Gabon 140 Kenya 141 Marshall Islands 142 Kiribati 143 Burundi 144 China 145 Mongolia 146 Gambia 147 Maldives 148 Papua New Guinea 149 Uganda 150 Nepal 151 Kyrgystan 152 Togo 153 Turkmenistan 154 Tajikistan 155 Zimbabwe 156 Tanzania 157 Djibouti 158 Eritrea 159 Madagascar 160 Vietnam 161 Guinea 162 Mauritania 163 Mali 164 Cameroon 165 Laos 166 Congo 167 North Korea 168 Namibia 169 Botswana 170 Niger 171 Equatorial Guinea 172 Rwanda 173 Afghanistan 174 Cambodia 175 South Africa 176 Guinea-Bissau 177 Swaziland 178 Chad 179 Somalia 180 Ethiopia 181 Angola 182 Zambia 183 Lesotho 184 Mozambique 185 Malawi 186 Liberia 187 Nigeria 188 Democratic Republic of the Congo 189 Central African Republic 190 Myanmar