Friday, October 23, 2009

To Discredit U.S. Health Care

Go directly to the 1999 WHO report.
It ranks U.S. 37th among health systems.
Cite the report without qualifications.

Do not say it is flawed and outdated.
Or that it rests on incomplete data.
Or that it ignores cultural, behavioral, and economic factors,
beyond the reach of health systems.

It forgets to mention dietary habits and obesity.

It does not mention the U.S. ranks first in responsiveness,
on speed of access, number of choices, and quality of amenities.

It does not say 1999 data is old or full of uncertainties.

It does not say U.S. has world’s best technologies,
and the best results for those with chronic disease.

Do not question single payer advocates,
who keep throwing the WHO Report against the wall.

It does not bring up the fact that many European nations,
now use private plans to provide universal coverage.

Above all,

never quote Philip Musgrove, editor-in-chief of 1999 WHO Report,
who now says rankings contained “so many made up numbers,”
and that ranking national health systems is “ a fool’s errand.”

Or, heaven forbid, do not cite Alan Garber, MD,
An economist and professor of medicine at Stanford.

He talks of nutrition, education, exercise, and public safety,
as prime factors just as or more important than health systems,
in improving a nation’s overall health,
“Not every health problem, “ he says, “has a medical solution.”

Instead, cite the 1999 WHO Report and the U.S. as the 37 Ranked System .

Source: Carl Bialik, “Ill-Conceived Ranking Makes for Unhealthy Debate In the Wrangle Over Health Care," a Low Rating for the U.S. System Keeps Emerging Despite Evident Shortcomings in Study,” Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2009.

Dr. Richard Reece is author, blogger, speaker, and innovation and reform commentator. Dr. Reece’s latest book, Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform ( is available at,, and for $31.95 (hardcover), $21.95 (softcover), and $6.95 (electronic). For information on speaking fees and arrangements, call 860-395-1501.

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