[extropy-chat] Health data

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Fri Jun 16 19:02:45 UTC 2006

On Fri, Jun 16, 2006 at 11:14:38AM -0700, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Jun 16, 2006, at 9:23 AM, Damien Sullivan wrote:
> > So, tell me again how socialized medicine doesn't work.  Seems to work
> > as well or better than ours for half as much money.
> Excluding relative gross deficiencies in medical care, which is not  
> really in evidence in most industrialized countries, I do not see how  
> the cost of medical care has any significant impact on infant  
> mortality rates or life expectancy.  I would expect that  

I'd say it's not the cost but the amount spent.  Anyway, I'd imagined
spending would make a big difference for infant mortality: who gets the
vaccines and the care when sick?  With the US having lots of people,
black and white, below the threshold of decent infant care.  But I don't
know, maybe nutrition and residential pollution make the difference.

And it might be argued that "gross deficiency" is exactly what the US
has.  Not if you can afford it, no, and not if you have some problem
which the ER can actually treat, but if you have a chronic condition
whose drugs you can't afford, or if you put off going to the doctor
because you can't afford visits and therefore miss out on cheaper
preventive or early treatment care, you'll die sooner.

In fact I'd guess the general difference is of good (not UK) socialized
medicine encouraging check-ups and catching problems early, when it is
both cheaper and more effective to treat them.  ER care is both
expensive and less useful, if you're only being treated after things
turn into emergencies.

But I am guessing.

> environmental and lifestyle factors completely dominate such that  
> arguments over the cost of health care among modern countries is  
> pretty much irrelevant to health.  I doubt the difference in life  

I can see that for lower LE in the US, UK, Netherlands, and Germany, and
higher LE in Japan and Italy.  But I'd think Sweden to have similar diet
and they live long -- also longer than Norway next door.  Similarly
Canada and Australia seem similar to the US but live notably longer.
The US smokes less than Germans or Japanese (actually Japanese women
smoke less, but 47% of the men smoke) and about the same as Canada.

> If the US had a socialized healthcare system tomorrow, even a very  
> expensive one, it would have no impact on the factors that very  
> likely account for differences in mortality.  It would change the  

I think "no impact" is too strong, but I agree that it might be easier
for us to save lots of money than to boost the life expectancy.  Unless
our lifestyle is so bad we need the extra money just to pretend to be a
First World country.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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