I’m willing to accept that because of certain moral hazard and adverse selection problems, having a large pool of customers (aka the population) in a health insurance plan might lower costs. But in terms of quality, is America’s health care really that bad? People frequently cite our low life expectancy relative to other industrialized countries as an argument as to why nationalized health care produces higher quality services than America’s (not-actually-) private health insurance. Steve Chapman clears that up in a recent column:
One big reason our life expectancy lags is that Americans have an unusual tendency to perish in homicides or accidents. We are 12 times more likely than the Japanese to be murdered and nearly twice as likely to be killed in auto wrecks.
In their 2006 book, “The Business of Health,” economists Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John E. Schneider set out to determine where the U.S. would rank in life span among developed nations if homicides and accidents are factored out. Their answer? First place.
Not to mention the fact that our “greedy” profit-driven pharmaceutical companies produce pretty much any drug that hits the market today and lengthens people’s life expectancy, drugs that aren’t produced (but are in fact used) in countries with nationalized health care.
I’m still trying to make sense of all the issues in health care: costs, moral obligations, etc. But the whole life expectancy argument for national health care is just foolish.