On Quora, I was recently asked if surgery is safer in the United States compared to a country with socialized medicine? While I vaguely knew the answer, I decided to sit down and do the research. Spoiler alert: It’s much worse than I – and probably you, too – thought.
The United States has the highest rate of deaths amenable to health care among all comparable countries, a report coauthored by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation found in May 2017. This measures deaths from certain causes before age 75 that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care.
While overall mortality rates have been falling for years both in the U.S. and in comparable countries, they are still significantly higher the U.S. The so-called disease burden (disability adjusted life year rate per 100,000 population, or DALY) which measures the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death in the U.S. is far above any comparable country. In 2015, it lay at 23,104. In Belgium, the second on the list, it was 19.747.
And as everyone knows, Americans pay much, much more for their second-rate healthcare system than any other developed country. According to an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2009, concludes that “United States spends more than any other country on medical care”. This is due to higher prices for services themselves, higher costs to administer the system, more utilization of these services, or to a combination of these elements. In any case: Patients in American get less bang for their bucks than anyone else. And that includes many third-world countries, too!
BTW: 45,000 annual deaths per year are associated with a lack of patient health insurance, according to a study done at Harvard Medical School.
Me, I’ll take socialized medicine any day!