The last sentence of Halsey Frank’s recent column describes a limited government health-care environment that I would support. However, his apparent understanding of the U.S. health-care system, foreign systems and alternatives is not consistent with reality.
For example, long waits for care in foreign countries only occur in a few countries: England and Canada being the two principal ones, and there critical cases are handled immediately. In Japan there is no wait; people there usually don’t even make an appointment. Furthermore, the World Health Organization rates our system near the bottom of those of other developed countries. We excel only in cost: about 50 percent more of our GDP is spent on health care than France spends, the next on the cost list and the health provider country ranked highest by the WHO.
I suggest that Mr. Frank read “The Healing of America” by T.R. Reid, which covers these areas in detail and has extensive supporting references. That read should replace the factually-unsupported “I am skeptical of such claims of vast superiority, and mindful of anecdotes about problems with European national health services … .”
In addition, Mr. Frank expressed concern about “bureaucrats making decisions about who gets what treatment … .” I would be similarly concerned but I am even more distrustful of insurance company clerks making decisions which are not only inconsistent from company to company but are motivated by profit rather than patient health. Unfortunately, a description of alternatives is beyond the scope of this letter.