A new study that looks at the effects of highly treatable diseases, ones for which greater access to continual medical care can mean the difference between life and death, finds that the American health care system lags behind much of the developed world.
Americans grumble all the time about the quality of our health-care system, but when we’re dealing with serious issues, such as injuries from an auto accident or cancer, we often count our blessings that we live in a wealthy country that has well-trained doctors with access to the latest medical technology.
Yet those factors don’t always correlate with staying alive. That’s the distressing finding from a global study of what researchers call “amenable mortality,” or deaths that theoretically could have been avoided by timely and effective medical care.
Christopher Murray, a researcher at the University of Washington, and his collaborators looked at 32 causes of death in 195 countries from 1990 to 2015 to create a health-care quality index they used for rankings. Murray described the findings as “disturbing.”
“Having a strong economy does not guarantee good health care,” he said. “Having great medical technology doesn’t, either. We know this because people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments.”…
As might be expected, many highly developed nations, such as Norway, Australia and Canada, scored well. Those in more-remote areas in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean scored poorly…
The United States measures well for diseases preventable by vaccines, such as diphtheria and measles, but it gets almost failing grades for nine other conditions that can lead to death. These are lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, non-melanoma skin cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the adverse effects of medical treatment itself.
And yet we spend more per capita on health care than any other country. But spending more per capita when tens of millions of people lack access to affordable medical care means enormous inequality in the provision and effectiveness of that spending. I’m sure Trump would say that this is all because of Obamacare, but this has been true for decades, long before the ACA existed. And the Republican replacement plan would make it far worse, stripping coverage from nearly 30 million more people.