According to “the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced,? the U.S. has the best 5-year cancer survival rate of 22 countries studied. Although the Telegraph focuses on the dismal performance of Great Britain’s imploding system of socialized medicine, it also provides a chart showing the best performers.

Averaging the rates for men and women, the top five performers are as follows: United States (64.6%), Sweden (61.0%), Iceland (59.8%), Finland (58.5), and Switzerland (57.9%). The worst performer was Scotland. England was fifth from the bottom.

One of the most ironic findings involved the correlation between survival rates and per capita health care spending, Despite the fact that we are constantly bombarded by propaganda to the effect that U.S. health care is “too expensive,? that turns out to be an advantage:

A second article, which looked at 2.7 million patients diagnosed between 1995 and 1999, found that countries that spent the most on health per capita per year had better survival rates.

So, here’s a question for all of the people who claim that we in the United States spend too much on health care: Would you rather have a health care system that saves you money or one saves your life?

Comments 9

  1. DrRich wrote:

    This analysis once again puts the lie to the primary tenet – call it an axiom – of managed care, pay for performance, and other management theories which hold that optimization of healthcare can be achieved by centralized directives. This axiom, borrowed from industry, states: “standardization of any process always improves outcomes and reduces cost.”

    This axiom of industry may hold when you are building widgets, but when you are providing healthcare to humans it decidedly does not. There are times – many times – where optimizing outcomes for patients INCREASES cost. The aggressive management of many types of cancer is just one example. When these occasions occur, one must choose between a process that optimizes outcomes (which is expensive) and one that holds down cost (and sacrifices outcomes, i.e., lives). In every place where there is centralized healthcare, the choice is clear – keeping costs down is paramount.

    The thing that burns me is not so much that the central authorities invariably choose cost over outcomes (though that does burn me). What is particularly annoying is that, having chosen costs over outcomes, they then invoke the axiom of industry to equate their vigorous efforts at cost reduction with improved outcomes, thus maintaining the fiction that outcomes are their chief concern.

    - DrRich

    Posted 21 Aug 2007 at 3:20 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    Amen. It will be interesting to see if the advocates of central planning will try to spin this to their advantage (they are very creative that way). More likely, they’ll just pretend the data don’t exist.

    Posted 21 Aug 2007 at 3:55 pm
  3. Matt wrote:

    Catron, YOU are an advocate of central planning. YOU support Medicare and Medicaid, you just want them to pay doctors more.

    If you were the free market libertarian you claim, you wouldn’t be talking about total expenditures on healthcare as a society any more than you talk about total expenditures on water and sewer. All that matters is what the individual spends, or at least that is all that should matter.

    As long as you talk in terms of a society-wide “system”, you’re not introducing the free market. You’re just arguing over the manner in which the govt. doles the product out.

    Posted 21 Aug 2007 at 8:50 pm
  4. Catron wrote:

    Matt, you’re raving again.

    Posted 22 Aug 2007 at 8:36 am
  5. Matt wrote:

    Have I misstated your position?

    Posted 22 Aug 2007 at 6:06 pm
  6. Catron wrote:


    Posted 22 Aug 2007 at 7:14 pm
  7. Marius wrote:

    of course this is a welcomed prize for the American health system. unfortunately, all the lives saved ( or prolonged) in the fight against cancer are lost elsewhere. overall, life expentancy is sensibly lower in US than in most of developed countries, infant mortality is also unexpectedly higher in the US. it would have been really shameful for US ( the country that indeed spends per capita by far more than any nation on earth)if we didn’t beat those pesky socialist Europeans at least at one important chapter of health care. another important one is smoking reduction where we also do better than the Europeans.

    US has still a lot to do to prevent and decrease the incidence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality and morbidity ( US remains the most afflicted nation from obesity, diabetes/insulin resistance syndrome, to decrease mortality and permanent disability from gunshot wounds ( and other forms of inter-human violence). we also lag behind West-Europeans in number of people dying or mutilated in automobile accidents.

    overall US health care system remains inefficient ( the ratio of expenditure to results remains poor compared with those of most other developed nations). no wonder if we take into account that close to 50% of health care cost resides with administration ( mostly insurance on one end and billing on other end) and legal services and not with patient care.

    an overhaul of the insurance system is badly needed. the debate state vs. private companies is less relevant at this point. in the end almost 45% of healthcare cost are through Medicaid and Medicare – so the government is still the bigger player on the medical service purchase market. and it becomes clear that the private insurance is not always working the way is suppose to…

    Posted 23 Aug 2007 at 5:25 pm
  8. matt wrote:

    The assertions of this study seem to be contradicted by the OECD study among developed nations from 2000. I’m curious as to the methodology of the people doing the survey showing the survival rate as 90%, what are they doing about people who cannot afford treatment? Are they included? I noticed that these studies that put the US ahead tend to base it off of 5 year + survival rates, so it probably matters what overall cancer mortality is.

    This site (http://cancerdeaths.co/cancer-death-rates-by-country/ ) showing the results of an independent OECD study shows how many cancer patients wind up dying out of the total. As you will note we come out way ahead on breast cancer as advertised among developed nations, but it actually seems lower in most of the underdeveloped world for some reason.

    If we go by number of overall cancer deaths per 100000, the US comes out at a solid middle among the developed world, but actually well behind Britain and Scandinavia.

    Also, even if we take this study you cite at face value, the claim that just because we deal with cancer better than most nations ignores that fact that multiple studies have consistently shown the US falling short in other health-related areas such as respiratory disease, infant mortality, and others.

    Your claim as to the superiority of the US healthcare system is highly dubious at best

    Posted 28 Jul 2011 at 6:22 pm
  9. Diogenes wrote:

    “The assertions of this study seem to be contradicted by the OECD study …”

    That would be a feature rather than a bug, Matt.

    Posted 28 Jul 2011 at 8:11 pm

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