Americans Spend the Most on Health Care, Yet Die Younger

You’d think that the more “a developed country spends on health care, the longer it’s people” would live. And you’d be wrong. For instance, the United States, “which spends the most on health care,” only ranks 27th out of 35 countries “in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which promotes policies to improve social and economic well-being.”

Moreover, it “has the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, the sixth highest maternal mortality rate and the ninth highest likelihood of dying at a younger age from a host of ailments, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The United States is also “the most obese country in the OECD, leads in drug-related deaths and ranks 33rd in prevalence of diabetes.”

Even so, “88 percent of Americans say they are in good or very good health, according to OECD statistics,” whereas “only 35 percent of Japanese, who have the highest life expectancy in the OECD, regard themselves as healthy or very healthy.”

Conflicts of Interest Helping to Shape Health Care

According to this article, practitioners involved in just about every “area of medicine” are to a greater or lesser extent, respectively, in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry.

“More than two-thirds of patient advocacy organizations that responded to a survey indicated that they had received industry funding in their last fiscal year. For most, the money represented a small share of their budget. But 12 percent said they received more than half of their money from industry.”

We’re talking about “those who write guidelines that shape doctors’ practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even oncologists on Twitter.”

What it amounts to is that vast conflicts of interest are actually helping to shape health care.

“The very way we all think about disease — and the best ways to research, define, prevent, and treat it — is being subtly distorted because so many of the ostensibly independent players, including patient advocacy groups, are largely singing tunes acceptable to companies seeking to maximize markets for drugs and devices,” researchers Ray Moynihan and Lisa Bero wrote in an accompanying commentary.

Medical Errors Are a Major Cause of Death in Hospitals

Someone I knew back in the day, who lived in a small town in South Africa, was diagnosed with a stomach tumor and a date was set for its surgical removal.

But as the day for surgery drew near, she grew increasingly uneasy about the diagnosis and decided to go to a nearby big city for a second opinion.

The new tests showed no trace of a tumor but revealed, instead, a minor ailment that could be—and was—successfully treated non-surgically.

If you think a major medical error like that is something that could happen only in a poorly equipped small town medical facility, and even then, only once in a blue moon—think again.

Medical errors, here in the United States of all places, are the third leading cause of death, “claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s.”

In fact: “Nightmare stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing the wrong body parts have dominated recent headlines about medical care. Lest you assume those cases are the exceptions, a new study by patient safety researchers provides some context.”

Furthermore, according to scientific research evidence, when doctors go on strike around the world patients actually stop dying.

For instance:

“Doctors withdrew their labor, in the different strikes analyzed, from between nine days and 17 weeks. Yet all the different studies report population mortality either stays the same, or even decreases, during medical strikes. Not a single study found death rates increased during the weeks of the strikes, compared to other times.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?