Comparing Health Care Across the Pond
Although Laura Wilson Porter ’83 wrote from Scotland to testify “personally and professionally that health and social care is better than in the USA,” data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on health care show otherwise. Women’s mortality rates from strokes are 29 per 100,000 in the United States, 39 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom. Men’s rates are 32 per 100,000 in the U.S., 42 per 100,000 in the U.K. Cancer mortality rates are lower in the U.S. than the U.K. (for women, 130 per 100,000 in the U.S. versus 141 per 100,000 in the U.K.; for men, 185 per 100,000 versus 199 per 100,000). The U.S. has more MRI units, MRI exams, CT scanners, and CT exams, and higher rates of coronary angioplasty, knee replacement, and vaccinations for measles. Waiting times for specialist appointments and elective surgery are shorter in the U.S. than in the U.K.
Yes, infant mortality rates are higher in the U.S. One reason is the rate of preterm births is 65 percent higher than in the U.K., and more premature babies are born here alive that would be declared stillborn in the U.K. The U.S. has more technology to serve preterm babies, such as miniature suction devices, catheters, and emergency incubators, but not all survive. Those who die raise the overall U.S. infant mortality rate.
Yes, life expectancy is higher in the U.K., but that’s due to violence in American society, not quality of American health care. When you remove deaths from car accidents, guns, and other fatal injuries, Americans have a higher life expectancy than the British.
Americans are already discovering the disadvantages of the Affordable Care Act. Their health-insurance premiums are rising. Employers are limiting hiring and putting workers on part time to reduce taxes. And, despite the president’s promise, even if people like their plans, they can’t necessarily keep them.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth ’79
Chevy Chase, Md.