There are many reasons to push through President Obama’s health reforms urgently despite the rhetoric – escalating health costs, 80 million uninsured Americans, inefficient delivery systems, to name a few. But there’s one question that needs to be addressed for which the answer is practically unanimous.
Are Americans dying too soon? The answer is a resounding YES.
When it comes to “preventable deaths” – illnesses and injuries that should not kill at an early age with access to timely and effective health care – the United States ranks last among 19 industrialised nations, according to the Commonwealth Fund.
Well, the study may be a few years old, but the fact remains that not much has changed since and the belief is that the US continues to lose ground. And what are the diseases Americans most likely to die from that can be prevented? Gun-shot injuries and motor vehicle accidents top the list but chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke and epilepsy are bigger drivers of healthcare costs.
Many will defend US healthcare as one of the finest in the world. True, to a certain extent. When its good, its really good. But when its bad, it can be really terrible. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) describes the performance of the U.S. system as a mix, at best.
It ought to be noted that diseases like complicated cancers, AIDS and most heart diseases, while often treatable, are not considered preventable, because even with the best of modern medicine, patients often die before old age.
As the health reform debate rages on as to the best methodology to resuscitate, rehabilitate and enhance healthcare delivery in the US, thousands will continue to die from preventable causes. Many are asking whether the President will have the panacea for the ailing system.
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