The DR editorial of Jan. 14, “US ranks low on health measures,” is to be commended for primarily using facts instead of emotion in discussing health measures. Unfortunately, its conclusions are not supported by logic and the facts provided.
The editorial factually identifies that U.S. life expectancy is the lowest of 17 nations measured, but that a U.S. citizen who reaches 75 years will outlive others. It then explains that the primary reasons for the higher mortality in U.S. citizens below age 50 are higher rates of death from violence, traffic accidents, drug overdoses, obesity, heart and lung disease and infant mortality.
The editorial does not separate that the causes of higher U.S. mortality are unrelated to health care, with the partial exception of the infants and heart and lung disease, which may be caused by personal neglect or the health system. It does not emphasize that older people seek health care and receive its benefits. It overlooks that most medical advances for the world, particularly in pharmaceuticals, during the past 50 years have been developed in the U.S.
The editorial then concludes that the key reasons for mortality differences are the lack of national health coverage, higher monetary cost and difficulty in accessing regular care. Really? Socialized health care will not cure the aforementioned problems and hospitals are required by law to provide free service to anyone who seeks it. Accessibility is not a reason, but that free service is the cause of increased cost for paying recipients since the hospitals and doctors must transfer the “free” costs to continue in business.
Summary: U.S. longevity is an education problem, not a health care problem.