Alarming News

August 27, 2009

WHO misleading the public on life expectancy (Jessica)

One thing I’d like to clear up is the idea that the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems can accurately tell us how great or poor health care actually is. According to the study, the U.S. ranks at a lowly 37th in the world. People always cite this number as the reason to discredit our health care system. However, as with most comparative statistics, people rarely question where these numbers come from.

Life expectancy takes into account a number of factors such as infant mortality, homicides, suicides, motor vehicle accidents, and other causes of death that are not necessarily indicators of an effective health care system. David Hogberg and Sally Pipes have really great write-ups laying out the specifics of comparative life expectancies. I’ll just highlight a few points.

Posted by Jessica at 03:07 PM |

When it comes to healthcare stats, the media always puts the “WHO’s on first” and they don’t give a darn who’s on second.
I definitely question anything associated with the UN.

Posted by: Jason at August 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Good job, Jessica.
I wonder if the WHO will ever reveal the statistics that there’s a much higher rate of survival of cancer in the United States, compared to if you have cancer in one of the beloved Euro nanny states (or Canada).
And the per capita rate of medical technological machines is much higher in the United States, compared to the number of machines available in those other countries.
That’s one of the ways the big government bureaucracies in Europe keep their medical expenditures down—they just don’t buy a lot of machines.
And those countries’ medical expenditures are not as even as high as they would be if those countries paid MARKET PRICES to import their pharmaceuticals—pharmaceuticals, which their bureaucratic states did not develop.
The reason Canada can sell drugs to consumers for lower prices, is because the American pharmaceuticals give them a hefty price break.
It’s capital investment which is the engine for so much of the research & development of medical technology and pharmaceuticals, which are shared with socialist states at lower prices.
If Canada or England had to rely on ONLY the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals developed in their own countries, they’d be in trouble.
If in the future, the Marxists succeed in transforming the United States into just another European bureaucratic state which frowns on capital investment, then there will be a big drop off in the development of future medical technologies and pharmaceuticals.
In other words, what has the communist paradise of Cuba contributed to medical technology and pharmacy, during the last 50 years ?

Posted by: IamTheWalrus at August 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Yes great points. The cancer recovery rate is a point I totally forgot to mention. America is #1 in cancer survival. It’s also #1 in percent pre-screened for cancer. These statistic is a direct result of effective healthcare and yet no one hears about it.

Posted by: Jessica at August 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

A few Brits I have talked to about NHS, tend to say how much they love it, yet none have experienced (and I hope they never do) for extended period of time due to cancer or other horrible, prolonged conditions. I was so thankful I was in the US when I got diagnosed with lymphoma, who knows how long it would have taken me to get the cat scan I needed, in say Canada, here in the US it took a day to diagnose my illness!
Also, you are making fantastic points, I just don’t understand why Republicans are not talking with the same information.

Posted by: Petitedov at August 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm

America has much greater homicide and suicide rates compared with other countries… if you exclude these causes of death, America has the leading life expectancy compared to any other western nation.
Sounds like we need the public option AND gun control.

Posted by: Charles at August 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Sounds like we need the public option AND gun control.
And also a government agent assigned to each of us so that we wear our seatbelts and don’t get hit by a bus while crossing the street.

Posted by: Karol at August 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm

For whatever reason, America has much greater homicide and suicide rates compared with other countries. We also have many more car accidents.
Is this not because we have a hella lot more people than most western nations?

Posted by: Karol at August 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Life expectancy is a lot more complicated than you’d think at first glance, and I don’t think it’s a very good measure of a health system. Genetics and habits have a much bigger effect on how long a large population will live than the quality of its health care.
Ask anyone who’s had anything serious go wrong in Japan – the quality of US health care is far superior. But Japanese people live for a long time because they eat lots of fish, exercise, and (at least in the case of the older generation) they’re short. And, well, they’re Japanese, genetically.
But measures like cancer survival rates are tricky too. While it’s true you’ll survive longer from diagnosis to death in the US, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest the reason is you’re likely to be diagnosed earlier because we test more. There was a big study, oh, I dunno, about ten years ago that found having mamograms didn’t actually extend your life. You discover the cancer earlier, but then you die at about the same time (from the cancer or from something else maybe decades later) as you would have if it were discovered later by detecting a lump or having pain.
It can all be debated endlessly, which is why I’m proposing a new standard based on the attractiveness of the nursing staff.

Posted by: Eric at August 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm

No, Karol – a higher population wouldn’t explain higher rates of murder/suicide/car-related deaths, only higher numbers of them.

Posted by: Charles at August 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Is this not because we have a hella lot more people than most western nations?

It’s a comparison of rates, which are not affected by the population, in contrast to absolute numbers.
As my dad used to say, “You don’t see a lot of gang-bangers running around Sweden.” Blacks alone commit roughly half of the violent crime in this country, mainly against other blacks, and violent “ethnic minorities” are an element Europe just doesn’t have. Except for Muslims, of course, but so far they prefer to torch cars than kill people.
Mark Perry once computed life expectancy only for people 45 or older, in terms of “a person age __ will on average live __ more years.” Check it out. This factors out things like, oh, young black male deaths that bring down U.S. life expectancy. It isn’t that a typical American doesn’t live as long, it’s that enough Americans die young from non-natural causes and bring down the average.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm

i say ‘for whatever reason’ because it really doesn’t matter what the homocide/auto-related death rates are in terms of judging a healthcare system. we could have a 50% homocide rate and this would tell us very little about the the effectiveness of our healthcare.

Posted by: Jessica at August 28, 2009 at 1:01 am

Stop trying, Toowoozy. You keep failing.
1. You’re engaging in the same old fallacy that because country X’s population lives to only __ years, that country Y’s greater longevity means it has superior health care. It’s a fallacy because it assumes every cause of death is preventable and/or treatable. Notice something at the top of the chart? “All causes.” So this “study” is just another way of presenting what we already know: American life expectancy is lower because of higher homicide rates.
Try a study that is restricted to natural causes, and adjust for Americans’ higher-fat, higher-cholesterol diets. Oh, that can’t be done? Well, coincidentally, neither can socialized medicine — effectively, that is.
2. Presumably he’s talking only about South Korea, but to call it just “Korea” is idiotic.
And now the biggie:
3. He’s a liar. He so massaged the statistics that they’re meaningless.
a. He’s using males against the entire population’s life expectancy. We already know that American men, on average, die a bit younger than the average life expectancy for both men and women. American women have a life expectancy of about two years more, as I recall, so it’s not surprising to see numbers that show American men don’t live as long as the average.
To put it in simple terms for you, let’s say Jack died at 78, Jill died at 80. This study would look at Jack only, then say “American health care is inferior because Jack didn’t live until the average of 79!”
b. He doesn’t need to use “per 100,000 males” for this kind of average. He could have easily had it “For each average male.” However, he needs this lie to inflate his numbers.
According to his own numbers, it comes to 0.06397 years per American male. That’s 23.35 days. The “best” country on his list, Japan, therefore comes to 13.55 days per male.
So this study proves “nothing” except that when it comes to dying, there’s more gender equality in other countries.
And you’re welcome for the free lesson on how to look past statistics.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Just saw that I forgot one last thing:
You now see (or SHOULD see) that the putz is lying about his data. But let’s assume he wasn’t. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, shall we?
His “study” would be comparing the average of 100,000 individuals to the average of that particular population. The difference would be…zero. ZERO. Do you understand that?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Sounds like we need the public option AND gun control.
Please point to a decline in suicide or homicide rates following the adoption of gun control.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at August 30, 2009 at 1:10 am
Post a comment