What Do the U.S. and Turkmenistan Have in Common?

Foreign Policy came up with a list of “The World’s Worst Healthcare Reforms”. Keeping company with Russia, China, and Turkmenistan is the good old U.S. of A.: “The United States has the rare distinction of being both one of the world’s richest countries and having one of its least-functional health care systems. … [F]or the most part, the history of health reform in the United States has been a history of failure.” But it sounds like we still have a leg up on Turkmenistan: “In a frankly insane healthcare reform effort, [President Saparmurat Niyazov] restricted the public’s access to care by replacing up to 15,000 doctors and nurses with unqualified military conscripts. … He also implemented fees and created an ‘unofficial’ ban on the diagnosis of certain communicable diseases, like hepatitis.” [%comments]

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  1. Garrett Pendergast says:

    Healthcare by fiat? Couldn’t happen here of course.


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  2. qingl says:

    I think it was diagnosis by fiat. Which of course does happen here already. It just depends on who is doing the “fiat-ing”.

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  3. Colin says:

    Putting the US in the same breath as the other countries is insane. It’s obvious that the author is simply a cheerleader for a government takeover of health care.

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  4. Mike says:

    The writer makes one of he dumbest points I’ve read when she notes that US lung cancer survival rates aren’t much better than Europe. Lung cancer is extremely deadly and the US rate (15%) is only slightly better (10%). But there’s not much you can do. that’s like comparing the US to Europe in rates of bazooka blast survival.

    Other US cancer survival rates, as well as survival rates for heart attacks and strokes, are significantly better than Europe.

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  5. Doc says:

    from Foreign Policy, published by Slate, a property of the Washington Post. Of course they have an agenda.

    U.S. health care bashers are all in need of treatment for their massive blind spots. They obvioulsy don’t get annual optic field exams – as my private provider allows – but then if their untreated eyes dim, they can fall back on the french model – merde happens.

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  6. brazzy says:

    Note that cancer survival rates can be very misleading. Especially time survival rates (how many patients are alive after 5 years) are extremely skewed by the intensive screenings favored in the USA – if the cancer is diagnosed very early, the 5 year survival rate shoots up independantly of the quality of treatment and ultimate survival rate.

    Cancer death rates are less susceptible to skews in this regard (but of course include influences of lifestyle) and don’t show any clear superiority of the US health system:

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  7. Cory says:

    The comments on the American reforms was just asinine. For example – “Since [the defeat of HillaryCare], costs and premiums have doubled, a lower percentage of employers offer coverage, and millions more are uninsured.”

    Don’t they understand that one of the reasons that “costs and premiums have doubled” is precisely becaue the system is GOOD. Our health care system is so good that it leads to the creation of all sorts of cutting edge technologies that, yes, result in higher premiums. Moreover, the use of medical services is over-used which leads to the increase in premiums. We also keep people alive longer, which will also increase premiums.

    The only way they can make their point is to assume their conclusion, cherry pick stats, and then assume those stats can only be interpreted to support their conclusion. There are several weaknesses along that chain.

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  8. jdiec says:

    I agree that the author is unfair in lumping the US with the likes of Russia, China, and Turkmenistan (seriously?) but she makes her point in that, dollar for dollar, Americans get poor value for for all the money we put in healthcare.

    I don’t understand why people have issue with her example about lung cancer deaths. She points out that many countries have the SAME death rates from lung cancer as the US, but spend less than half as much per capita on health care. Which begs the question: what is the other 50+% being spent on?

    Cory your argument is makes no sense. A majority of insurers will refuse to pay for experimental/cutting-edge treatment because it is so expense. They would much rather you take the established (old) alternative that would cost a fraction as much to administer. And the medical services in ALL countries are overused. Show me a single developed country with idle doctors and empty hospital beds and I’ll find you a couple thousand people who would be willing to move their in a heartbeat.
    Cory does make one good point though, advances in medical technology have allowed us to keep people alive longer. Unfortunately this is why 25-40% of health care costs come from treatment during the 2-4 weeks of a person’s life. Of course if we try to curb the costs by say, refusing to cover anything unless it extends your life for more than a month, then people start screaming “rationing!” life it is some four-letter word and all logical debate ceases.
    Personally, if I was on my deathbed and knew I could save my family from paying 40% of my medical bills before I die, I’d tell them to just pull the plug.

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