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Reader's view: U.S. spends more, gets less with health care

Health care in Canada and the United Kingdom, we're told, are examples of socialized medicine toward which the Obama administration is heading. Those wishing to frighten offer examples suggesting these health-care systems are a mess.

Health care in Canada and the United Kingdom, we're told, are examples of socialized medicine toward which the Obama administration is heading. Those wishing to frighten offer examples suggesting these health-care systems are a mess.

Examples may be found to support or refute anything, but what about facts? Facts are found in World Health Organization Health Statistics 2009. Statistics comparing inputs, or dollars, and outputs, or citizen health, for the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, or U.K., follow.

In 2006, health expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product were, in the U.S.,

13.2 percent; in Canada, 8.8 percent; and in the U.K., 7.1 percent. Per capita total expenditures in U.S. dollars were, in the U.S., $6,719; in Canada, $3,917; and in the U.K., $3,332.

The U.S. substantially outspends Canada and the U.K. In fact, per capita expenditures of the U.S. were more than 90 percent of the combined expenditures of the other two countries. Do larger expenditures produce better outcomes? Answers may be found in the World Health Organization statistics.

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In 2007, life expectancy at birth for combined sexes was, in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., respectively, 78 years, 81 years and 80 years. The other two countries outlive us by two or three years. Adult mortality for the combined sexes -- persons per 1,000 live births who die between the ages of 15 and 60 -- was, respectively, 108, 72 and 79. That means the U.S. also lags these two countries concerning both neonatal and infant mortality.

Adult obesity rates in the U.S. are about 33 percent versus

23 percent in Canada and the U.K.

If the costs are less and the outcomes are better, can a public option that may lead us in the direction of Canada or the United Kingdom be that disastrous?

Steve Rowley

Duluth

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