Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care, with actual numbers

I like numbers. They can be used in a very specific way to come to a conclusion. Of course, as the writer here notes it's important to keep in mind that the way the numbers are compiled can make a big difference. Read on, and take that grain of salt.

STEPHEN GLOVER: I deeply resent the Americans sneering at our health service - but perhaps that's because the truth hurts
| Mail Online
: "But whatever the failings and excesses of the American system, the statistics suggest that it delivers better outcomes than the NHS when dealing with serious illnesses. I say 'suggest' because we should always be wary of comparing figures compiled in different ways in different countries.

In treating almost every cancer, America apparently does better than Britain, sometimes appreciably so. According to a study in Lancet Oncology last year, 91.9 per cent of American men with prostate cancer were still alive after five years, compared with only 51.1per cent in Britain.

The same publication suggests that 90.1 per cent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2002 survived for at least five years, as against 77.8 per cent in Britain."
Lately I've been hearing a lot about the French health care system, but nobody honest is going to try to tell you that there aren't problems there too. I think the focus should be on avoiding other system's mistakes and moving forward, and it should be done in a thoughtful, honest fashion. Rushing in because you have the political muscle to push it through is a bad idea, especially when the congresscritters admit that they haven't even read it.