The U.S. healthcare system is a dysfunctional mess and politicians who insist otherwise look ignorant, according to a medical journal essay by a prominent ethicist at the National Institutes of Health.
If a politician declares that the United States has the best healthcare system in the world today, he or she looks clueless rather than patriotic or authoritative, Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in todays Journal of the American Medical Association.
Emanuel, who supports sweeping healthcare reform, said the U.S. spends $6,000 per person per year on healthcare, an amount that is more than 16% of the nations gross domestic product and more than any other country.
He also said Americans average life expectancy of 78 ranks 45th in the world, behind Bosnia and Jordan. And the U.S. infant death rate is 6.37 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of most developed nations.
Emanuels proposal involves phasing out Medicaid, Medicare and employer-sponsored health insurance. Under his plan, all Americans would get a basic package of insurance, would choose their insurance carrier and could buy upgraded coverage. The program would be funded by a value-added tax of about 10% on businesses.
Democrats and Republicans alike have made the worlds best claim.
David Hogberg, senior policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research, said a strong case can be made that the U.S. healthcare system is the best. Life expectancy is influenced by many factors other than healthcare, he said. Other measures show the U.S. performing well, he said. -- by the Associated Press