MUST-READ: How does health care in the USA compare with other countries?

Story from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, via ECM.

The article compares American health care to health care in other places like Canada, the UK and Europe.

I am particularly interested in prostate cancer rates, because that is a cancer that will necessarily be neglected by states that have single-payer systems. Why, you ask? Because only men get prostate cancer. And in a welfare state where leftist politicians are always catering to their special interest victim groups, men will definitely be discriminated against.

The full article. I almost never cite the full article, but this is a must read.

Here’s a Second Opinion

By Scott W. Atlas

Ten reasons why America’s health care system is in better condition than you might suppose. By Scott W. Atlas.

Medical care in the United States is derided as miserable compared to health care systems in the rest of the developed world. Economists, government officials, insurers, and academics beat the drum for a far larger government role in health care. Much of the public assumes that their arguments are sound because the calls for change are so ubiquitous and the topic so complex. Before we turn to government as the solution, however, we should consider some unheralded facts about America’s health care system.

1. Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers. Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

2. Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher, and colon cancer among men is about 10 percent higher.

3. Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, are taking them. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons, and 17 percent of Italians receive them.

4. Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians. Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate, and colon cancer:

  • Nine out of ten middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to fewer than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
  • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a Pap smear, compared to fewer than 90 percent of Canadians.
  • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a prostatespecific antigen (PSA) test, compared to fewer than one in six Canadians (16 percent).
  • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with fewer than one in twenty Canadians (5 percent).

5. Lower-income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians. Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report “excellent” health (11.7 percent) compared to Canadian seniors (5.8 percent). Conversely, white, young Canadian adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower-income Americans to describe their health as “fair or poor.”

6. Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom. Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long—sometimes more than a year—to see a specialist, have elective surgery such as hip replacements, or get radiation treatment for cancer. All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada. In Britain, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.

7. People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed. More than 70 percent of German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and British adults say their health system needs either “fundamental change” or “complete rebuilding.”

8. Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians. When asked about their own health care instead of the “health care system,” more than half of Americans (51.3 percent) are very satisfied with their health care services, compared with only 41.5 percent of Canadians; a lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied (6.8 percent) than Canadians (8.5 percent).

9. Americans have better access to important new technologies such as medical imaging than do patients in Canada or Britain. An overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identify computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade—even as economists and policy makers unfamiliar with actual medical practice decry these techniques as wasteful. The United States has thirty-four CT scanners per million Americans, compared to twelve in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has almost twenty-seven MRI machines per million people compared to about six per million in Canada and Britain.

10. Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations. The top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other developed country. Since the mid- 1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to U.S. residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined. In only five of the past thirty-four years did a scientist living in the United States not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States.

Despite serious challenges, such as escalating costs and care for the uninsured, the U.S. health care system compares favorably to those in other developed countries.

This essay appeared on the website of the National Center for Policy Analysis on March 24, 2009. An earlier version was published in the Washington Times.

Available from the Hoover Press is Power to the Patient: Selected Health Care Issues and Policy Solutions, edited by Scott W. Atlas. To order, call 800.935.2882 or visit

Scott W. Atlas is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School.

Please forward this article to all of your friends! It’s important!

3 thoughts on “MUST-READ: How does health care in the USA compare with other countries?”

  1. I’m sure it’s great for those who can afford it. When I lost my job, I lost my health care insurance and my dental plan. My wife is not allowed to work enough hours to get a health insurance. There are 50 million like us now. It’s a disgrace.
    Best country in the world, and we are not able to take care of our citizens.
    There should be a tax covering health care insurance for everybody.
    I’d prefer that Tom Cruise had to pay a bit more tax and pay for some of the pore people in this country. After all, we pay to see his movies…. so he get his wealth from us….


  2. I don’t want to take away from your situation Hanssi, in fact, I want us to focus like a laser on it.

    There are not 50 million like you, or 47 or 42 million like you (the most commonly heard numbers) or 30 million like you (the number given by POTUS Obama in last night’s speech)… There are 9.4 million like you.

    9.4 million people who are temporarily uncovered due to job loss and it’s related employer provided insurance program. Most plans that the republicans are putting forward deal directly with that by making health insurance tied to the individual and made affordable by tax credits.

    (The other chunks of that oft quoted too large number are: people who opt not to have it because they don’t think they need it(normally the young), can afford it but don’t (wealthy), illegal immigrants, and those who are qualified for government programs (medicare, medicaid) but are not signed up)

    My father in law was on COBRA for a long time. Mom-in-law’s income and his unemployment didn’t cover that and the bills. My wife and I and her brother’s family helped to cover. Not everyone is in the position to do that. But if we focus on people like you and your family, then we don’t need to talk about a MASSIVE government program, and objections start to melt away. We could actually get things done quickly and efficiently and cheaply for people like you if the liberals weren’t fighting so hard to socialize medicine.

    As for soaking the rich to pay for it all… the numbers have been run. What you propose just isn’t possible, even with an assumption of no loss of wealth production due to people fleeing the tax burden.


    1. James, I would like to know where you got your numbers since the the site lists just over 35 million americans without insurance and over 9 million illegal aliens (I don’t think we should cover them):

      Click to access p60-235.pdf

      this doesn’t count the number of under-insured americans.

      I do agree with you on one of your points – we definitely shouldn’t be “soaking” the rich to pay for this.


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