Two pieces today contrast health care in the U.S. and Europe, and beyond that the rest of the world. Peter Pitts relates a personal story of quality and efficient care in the U.S.:
The Europeans -- who suffer under socialized medicine -- were mostly amazed.
Amazed that we didn't wait hours for an emergency-room bed.
Amazed that we saw a doctor in less than five or eight hours.
Amazed that we weren't told to go home and come back at a later date -- because her white-blood-cell count was only slightly elevated and the appendix wasn't in danger of bursting.
And not amazed but astounded that the surgery was done immediately. That there was actually a room available and that it was vacant -- at a large urban hospital -- they couldn't even fathom.
Here is one verbatim comment from a continental comrade: "I waited three days in London to see a GP and 20 hours at ER for an 'exploratory op.' It burst and I nearly died (to say nothing of the two life-threatening incidents whilst I was being 'cared' for). But hey! The public option is better . . . right?"
Meanwhile Mark Constantian notes that's the general story:
The comparative ranking system that most critics cite comes from the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO). The ranking most often quoted is Overall Performance, where the U.S. is rated No. 37. The Overall Performance Index, however, is adjusted to reflect how well WHO officials believe that a country could have done in relation to its resources.
The scale is heavily subjective: The WHO believes that we could have done better because we do not have universal coverage. What apparently does not matter is that our population has universal access because most physicians treat indigent patients without charge and accept Medicare and Medicaid payments, which do not even cover overhead expenses. The WHO does rank the U.S. No. 1 of 191 countries for "responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient." Isn't responsiveness what health care is all about?
Update: Added the link for the second story.