Critics complain that the United States spends too much money and receives too little for its health care system. However, the United States comes in at No. 1 of 191 countries for "responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient" on the ranking system of the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO) comparative ranking system. This could be why a majority of Americans oppose Congress's health care reform bills, says Dr. Mark B. Constantian, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New Hampshire.
Why does the United States rate so high?
* Data assembled by Dr. Ronald Wenger and published recently in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons indicates that cardiac deaths in the United States have fallen by two-thirds over the past 50 years.
* Polio has been virtually eradicated.
* Childhood leukemia has a high cure rate.
* Eight of the top 10 medical advances in the past 20 years were developed or had roots in the United States.
* The Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to more Americans than to researchers in all other countries combined.
* Eight of the 10 top-selling drugs in the world were developed by U.S. companies.
* The United States has some of the highest breast, colon and prostate cancer survival rates in the world.
* And our country ranks first or second in the world in kidney transplants, liver transplants, heart transplants, total knee replacements, coronary artery bypass and percutaneous coronary interventions.
There's still more:
* We have the shortest waiting time for nonemergency surgery in the world; England has one of the longest.
* In Canada, a country of 35 million citizens, 1 million patients now wait for surgery and another million wait to see specialists.
Yes, the United States spends more money for health care, but the majority goes to pay for a long list of advantages that American citizens now expect: the easiest access, the shortest waiting times, the widest choice of physicians and hospitals, and constant availability of health care to elderly Americans. What we need now is insurance and liability reform -- not health care reform, says Dr. Constantian.
Source: Mark B. Constantian, "Where U.S. Health Care Ranks Number One," Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2010.