August 23, 2007

How to get health care costs under control, like our European betters!

Easy: stop spending so much money helping people fight cancer, or help preemies survive.

Posted by Steve-O at August 23, 2007 06:59 AM | TrackBack

Those statistics are useless. You have, on average, a 5% better survival rate in the US but a cancer incidence rate 40% higer in the US. Without looking at the survival rates from particular types of cancer and their relative rates of occurance in each country, the overall survival rates are meaningless.

In fact more people die from cancer in North America than do in Europe. Perhaps their preventative medicine is superior to ours?

And how do our friends to the north do?

How does Canada compare to other countries?
Nearly one-half of the 167 countries contacted by the World Health Organization in a 2001 survey indicated that they had a cancer control policy or plan. However, relatively few of these countries have comprehensive control programs that include prevention, early detection, treatment and palliative care. In the Americas, Canada is one of only five countries that have drafted comprehensive strategies; the others are Brazil, Chile, Columbia and the United States.
Canada versus other developed countries
The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimated incidence and mortality rates for countries around the world for the year 2000. Overall cancer incidence rates for males are slightly lower in Canada than in the U.S., largely because of lower prostate cancer rates. However, overall mortality rates in males are almost identical in the United States and Canada. In general, incidence rates in males are slightly higher in Canada than in developed countries as a whole, but mortality rates are slightly lower.
Incidence and mortality rates for females were generally higher in Canada than in other developed countries, with the exception of the United States, which had rates that were generally comparable to those in Canada.

Looks like a wash with 50% lower costs...

Posted by: LB Buddy at August 23, 2007 10:45 AM

Still and all, LB Buddy, I'd rather forgo the experience of my friend's mother in Canada, who was consistently put off - her initial consultation, getting her results, determining what care she would actually be able to get, the botched surgery, the delay in further care as doctors sought to hide the botched surgery, and the following rinse-lather-repeat cycle as she lost her battle with cancer. Time is the friend of the socialized systems - dead patients don't need expensive, innovative care.

Did I mention that all of her care and her final hospitalization were two hours away from home? No real local clinics or hospitals in the fair-sized town where she lived. My friend assures me that aside from the botched surgery, everything else is typical of the Canadian system.

She'd have lived longer and received more humane treatment in the US.

Posted by: tee bee at August 23, 2007 07:24 PM

LB Buddy, a significant portion of the difference between Canadian and US healthcare spend is the difference in salaries, combined with about a 10% lower per capita number of docs, and higher co-pays and prices on medicines. Then adding in the burden of the illegals who use government funded emergency rooms for free, and that statement about 50% lower costs in Canada turns into tee bee's anecdote because the Candaians are actually spending less per legal resident than we are, when wages are factored in.

Aside from that, overall costs are irrelevant if you are using cancer stats as your measuring stick, it's costs per cancer patient treated, and they are about the same in both countries, combined with a lower survival rate for recurrence in Canada, I think I'll take my chances here where I get a choice if I don't like my doc or his or her wait times.

Posted by: John Jay at August 25, 2007 07:49 PM