Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows that I have a lot of opinions on the U.S. health care system and environment and that I definitely see a lot of room to make it better, more enjoyable for all involved, and more cost efficient and more effective. I’ve bloviated extensively about this stuff in the past.
That said, I know that it also has the potential to get a lot worse. I think it is no secret that the Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare, will in my opinion make things much worse. I anticipate no real improvements in health care outcomes. I anticipate no real improvement in costs. In fact, I anticipate the opposite. I expect costs to go up dramatically and outcomes to likely get worse over time. Of course the supporters of centrally planned government controlled nanny statism will do everything they can to skew the numbers, divert blame, etc. They’ll do all they can to shift costs, etc. At the end of the day however, people aren’t stupid. Most of them instinctively know if their lives are getting better or getting worse.
These same sort of dishonest tactics have been used for years and are nothing new. Fortunately, common sense sometimes prevails however and deflates these bags of hot air. As an example, I remember through the early 1980′s hearing every night on the television news about how bad things were and how much worse they were under the Reagan administration. All sorts of “statistics” and “facts” were trotted out nightly by the “impartial and unbiased” news media to prove to all of us dumb Americans how much worse off we all were under Reagan. Well, I remember during his campaign for re-election in 1984, Reagan managed to counter all of their well planned hogwash with a simple statement to the American people. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here, rather than go look up the exact quote) “Ask yourselves this one simple question. Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” Reagan (running against Walter “Fritz” Mondale, who was the Vice President during the “spectacular” Carter years), not only won the election. It wasn’t even close. Out of 50 states, he carried 49. The only one he failed to win was Mr. Mondale’s home state of Minnesota. (To be fair, Fritz also managed to win over the voters in D.C. Shocking, I know. It almost seems to suggest that folks inside the beltway might be slightly out of touch with the rest of the country. Weird huh?)
Well, I think we are starting to see a similar thing with regards to Obamacare. Supporters of this Bolshevik wet dream, are simultaneously trotting out all sorts of “statistics” and predictions to try and tell us how wonderful it will be and how much better off all Americans will be. At the same time, in order to support their position, they constantly try to compare American health care with other countries to show just how terrible health care in America is.
One thing some of them love to do is trot out “statistics” from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) showing how the U.S. ranks so poorly on measures such as infant mortality, premature death, and life expectancy. One blogger even went so far as to say in regards to recent the Supreme Court
support of facism decision upholding Obamacare,
The saddest element of this whole kerfuffle is that liberals and policy wonks are celebrating the survival, by the thinnest of margins, of reforms which in the best-case scenarios will leave the US with the worst access to health care and health insurance in the OECD, with the highest cost per capita in the developed world, and with the worst outcomes in the industrialized countries. The passage and survival of the ACA are big wins, but they still leave the US with the worst health care in the world, and one party is hell-bent on dragging us backwards. So I will celebrate the win and spike the football and all that fun stuff, but tomorrow morning we’ve got to get up and keep working to reform our system further. Because what we have is not good enough. (emphasis mine)
I’ve said for years that using these numbers to argue that U.S. health care is inferior is beyond stupid for a myraid of reasons. Well, this morning I read an article entitled US health care: A reality check on cross-country comparisons, in which the authors H.E. Frech and Stephen T. Parente do a pretty good job of demonstrating why this is.
From the article,
It is overreaching to interpret country-specific variation in health outcomes as a measure of health care system productivity. In reality, the country-specific estimates reflect all differences in country-level influences, whatever their source and measurement issues. As econometrician William Greene stated in a similar context, there are considerable differences among countries that masquerade as inefficiency. More carefully calibrated research is necessary to identify these differences.
I thought it was a good read and recommend folks to go check it out for themselves via the above link. Kudos to Professors Hech and Parente! Job well done.
Anyway, with regard to Obamacare, as I’ve mentioned, I think hoping it will fix what ails the U.S. health care system, is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire in the hopes it will douse the flames. If it survives the upcoming political circus this fall, I will be very happy if my fears are proven wrong and Obamacare makes U.S. health care all sunshine and lollipops rather than the conflagration I anticipate. Still, I ain’t holding my breath on that one.