Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Britain Understands that America Doesn't

I found myself listening to C-SPAN Radio last night when I got home, because I immediately recognized the familiar voice of Senator Bernie Sanders.  He was going on again about how our country has the most expensive health care in the world, and it seems that most of the money that the rest of us shell out does little more than make the insurance companies richer.  Unfortunately, this was a committee hearing at which he could be cut off for taking too much time;  but I’m glad he keeps trying.

He had been given more time, he might have been able to cite a recent report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, whose results were documented by BBC News Health Reporter Michelle Roberts on the BBC News Web site this morning.  Those results were summarized at the top of the article:

People living in England enjoy better health than Americans, despite less investment in healthcare, research published in the US has revealed.

Across all ages, US residents tend to fare worse in terms of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease markers, data on over 100,000 people show.

However, the kicker came in the following sentence:

The reason remains a mystery, says the US team, and challenges the idea that resources necessarily improve health.

Roberts’ article then proceeds to discuss the nature of health care in the United Kingdom in comparison with conditions in the United States;  but she never really calls attention to the dead moose on the table, perhaps because it is too obvious to anyone British.  I refer to the fact that name of the “socialized medicine” program in the United Kingdom is the National Health Service (my emphasis).  This program has been successfully demonized by the American consciousness industry, which persists in dealing with health care as an industry that must be managed to achieve the most efficient use of resources.  The authors of the report at least recognized that health care is not all about resources;  but, because they have been victimized by the consciousness industry, just like the rest of us, they could not even propose the hypothesis that American health care has lost all touch with being a public service.  The result is that it is now little more than an income stream for the insurance industry.  The British, on the other hand, seem to recognize that “insuring health” does not make sense the way insuring personal property against theft or damage does.

Needless to say, it is unlikely that the consciousness industry will let a little thing like hard data interfere with their efforts to maintain the industrial nature of health care and keep the insurance industries fat and happy, while the rest of the country is consumed by maladies that could have been stemmed by better preventative care.

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