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World health care rankings downplay key issue of 'responsiveness'

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,
When people hear complaints about the U.S. health care system based on the World Health Organization (WHO) rankings, they should understand that the WHO rankings are not what most Americans assume.
The WHO rankings are based on criteria which is intended to justify big-government controlled, essentially socialist, health care so that politicians and bureaucrats can justify increasing taxes, allocating healthcare, and controlling citizens' everyday lives.
The complainers don't mention it, but in the one WHO criteria that most Americans would consider most relevant, "responsiveness", the U.S. health care system is rated best. Responsiveness measures how quickly the health care system responds to your problem, i.e., how quickly you can see a doctor and get treated.
Even using the WHO's criteria which gives greater weight to factors other than "responsiveness", the U.S. ranks 15th. But because the U.S. spends the most on health care, the WHO drops our ranking to 37th.
The U.S. health care system is unjustifiably downgraded because most insurance policies require co-pays and/or deductibles and because of the total cost of our health care system. But with 85-90 percent of Americans covered by insurance and with hospitals required to treat people regardless of ability to pay, American health care is available to all and affordable by most.
The WHO unjustifiably downgrades the U.S. system for things that our health care system doesn't control, e.g., murders, accidental deaths, and the results of perhaps the most unhealthy lifestyle in the developed world. Use of such criteria is only relevant for justifying increased government controls over our lives... so we live "healthier".
Do we really want bureaucrats controlling what we must and cannot eat or drink, requiring specific amounts of exercise, and preventing behaviors the bureaucrats consider risky (perhaps skiing, motorcycling, fireworks, hunting, driving over 55, etc.)? Think of the U.S.'s experiment with "prohibition" and apply that to every aspect of your life that a bureaucrat decides is relevant to your "health".
The WHO ranks Columbia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia above the U.S., but the world's rich come here, not there. Canada is ranked above the U.S., but many Canadians come here for health care, often so they can get treatment before they die.
Because the WHO's criteria has been hotly disputed, the WHO has not rated national healthcare systems since 2000. Nothing should be based on the WHO's health care rankings.
Americans who cite the WHO report to denigrate our health care system and justify government control of health care such as Obamacare are either ignorant of the WHO's criteria and objective or supporters of socialized medicine, increased taxes, and the loss of personal freedom that results from increased government controls of how we live our lives.
Don Ewing