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Infant Mortality and Health Care

Posted by cann0nba11 on June 8, 2009

When challenged about America’s health care industry liberals will usually drop the “infant mortality” statistic in their first few defensive statements. They will ask “why is the infant mortality rate in America something like 50th in the world?” This may give you pause, but when you see the list and consider some very important factors you can take the wind out of their sales. The list to the right is from the CIA and displays deaths per thousand live births (data current as of May, 2009). As you can see, many of the countries in the list are minuscule, completely homogeneous societies. When you factor in the massive melting pot characteristics of the United States you recognize that the comparison is not a fair one.

For starters, this excellent article from the Cato Institute offers an excellent resource and rebuts this specific point, among others. Here is a quote:

Why does the United States have a much higher infant mortality rate than countries with comparable living standards? Like the life expectancy rate, the U.S. infant mortality rate is a composite average. Overall, the chances that an infant will die at birth vary widely according to such factors as race, geography, income, and education:

  • Race: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1997, the mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) for infants born to black mothers was 13.7 compared to 8.7 for American Indian mothers, 7.9 for Puerto Rican mothers, 6.0 for non-Hispanic white mothers, and 5.0 for Asian mothers.
  • Geography: Among the 60 largest U.S. cities, infant mortality ranged from a high of 15.4 (Memphis) to a low of 4.5 (Seattle); among U.S. states, rates varied from a high of 10.2 (Alabama) to a low of 4.4 (New Hampshire).
  • Income and education: Infants born to low-income mothers who did not finish high school were about 50 per-cent more likely to die than infants whose mothers finished college.
  • If you think about it, there is only so much any medical system can do to improve the chances for a successful, healthy child birth. Once that child is born, there are many other factors that are better indicators of a country’s health care system. In my opinion the best way to grade a health care system is to look at survival percentages for treatable diseases and injuries. The article referenced above does exactly that.

    To put this discussion into terms that the average person can understand I contacted my sister-in-law. She lived in Calgary for nearly five years with her husband and three children and recently moved back to Texas. She and a friend of hers shared the following about the beloved Canadian health care system:

    People here just don’t realize the ramifications until you begin telling the stories of health care in Canada. We all knew from the news coverage in Calgary and personal experience that there was a doctor shortage. The system doesn’t pay doctors well so they go elsewhere to practice. Many people don’t have a personal doctor and only have the option of going to walk-in clinics or the emergency room. This is what most people choose which backs the system up.

    Everyone thinks health care is free or “cheap,” but it costs about $200 every few months just to have health care coverage. It is not free. Furthermore, there is little or no preventative care. I eventually realized that every time I went to the doctor in Calgary, nobody ever took my blood pressure, weight or temperature! Finally after a number of years I asked a doctor about it and she said it is because in Canada they don’t practice preventative medicine, saying that it is much different than the US in that respect. I have a history of high blood pressure in my family, so I checked my own blood pressure at the drug store because doctors didn’t monitor that routinely.

    Tests recommended by doctors take a long time to schedule and complete. For example, when I finally got into an ENT specialist for sinus problems, it took them seven months to schedule me in for surgery! (a long time when you are in pain.) My daughter needed an MRI for a very painful knee condition and it took over three months to be scheduled in for the MRI test and a two more weeks before the results got back to us. It is a well publicized fact in Canada that knee replacements are taking 4-5 YEARS to be scheduled and completed!

    In my opinion it seems that to save money in that type of health care system Canada is sacrificing good, quality patient care! Take your pick. I enjoy living in America again knowing I get what I pay for — good, quality health care with doctors that know and care about my health history. Needed tests are scheduled quickly and completed in a timely manner.

    I’ve got more I could share, perhaps I will save these anecdotes for the comments section. My point is this: A single-payer / nationalized healthcare system is NOT the answer.


    2 Responses to “Infant Mortality and Health Care”

    1. Jackybird said

      I lived in Canada. I have no idea what your sister is talking about.

    2. cann0nba11 said

      How long did you live there? Did you have a family that needed medical care? What were your experiences like?

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