Monday, August 06, 2007

Wait! Wait! Don't tell me!

Old news perhaps [2005] from the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog:
  • 900,000 Canadian patients are on the waiting list to get into hospitals at any one time.
  • 90,000 patients in New Zealand are the waiting lists at any one time.
  • 1 million people are waiting to get into British hospitals at any one time.
  • Funny, they don't have any waiting list numbers for the US.

Populations of those countires [all numbers are July 2007 estimates from the CIA World Factbook]:
  • Canada, pop 33,390,141
  • New Zealand, pop 4,115,771
  • UK, pop 60,776,238
  • US, pop 301,139,947
I can hear Dr Sanjay Gupta's exploding from here, mixing data from both different sources and and different years bad! but I'm going to do it anyway:
  • Canada 900,000/33,390,141 >> 2.7% of the population is waiting to get into the hospital
  • New Zealand 90,000/4,115,771 >> 2.2%
  • UK 1,000,000/60,776,238 >> 1.6%
  • US 0-46,000,000/301,139,947 >> somewhere between 0% and 15%, but goodness only knows what the real number is, because while the other countries have transparency in their government-run health care systems, insurance companies here don't have to tell anybody anything.

The Heritage Foundation's other big whine:
  • Only half as many Canadians as Americans get dialysis, per capita.
  • Only a third as many Britons as Americans get dialysis, per capita.
  • The American rate of coronary bypass surgeries is 3-4 times what it is in Canada.
  • The American rate of coronary bypass surgeries is 5 times what it is in Britain.
  • Britain has half the number of CAT scanners per capita as in the U.S.
  • One-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer in France and Germany die from it.
  • Almost one-half of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK and New Zealand die from it.
  • About one-fifth of American women diagnosed with breast cancer die from it.
  • One-fourth of Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it.
  • One-half of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK die from it.
  • Less than one-fifth of American men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it.
And yet, the people in those countries all live longer than we do:
  • Canada 79.43 years
  • France 78.76
  • New Zealand 77.82
  • UK 77.66
  • Germany 77.44
  • US 77.12


Keifus said...

Ugh, those longevity stats drive me nuts. Europeans: smoke more, relax more. Americans: work more, drive more, drink more.

I think there is probably something to the correlation, but of course there are more factors than health care.

25% increase in mortality rate for prostate cancer (US vs. Canada) is kind of a lot statistically, even if it's similar odds for any individual...especially since every man is likely to get it (especially with that long life expectancy). But even if it's a little better here for old men, I'm still not remotely convinced that paying double is getting us twice the service.


ytkwcrrb: you think you know cirrhosis, bud?

Keifus said...

Er, and the U.S., needless to say, has a sizable population of uninsured poor. I believe you showed some data a while back taht the US has higher infant mortality rates too?

Bah. wouldn't it be great to have reliable numbers and objective analysis?

hipparchia said...

hell, i'd settle for reliable numbers and letting people make their own analyses from them.

infant mortality

i might have said more about infant mortality elsewhere, but that's what really got me started on this kick.

and the greeks both drink more than we do and smoke way more than we do and they live longer than us too. probably the ouzo [and if so, i think i'd rather die sooner].

the big problem with comparing the death-by-cancer statistics is that once you get old enough, something is going to kill you. i've got the numbers somewhere, too lazy to look for them, so off the top of my head---

- our old folks die of heart disease more often than their old folks do.
- their old folks die of cancer more often than our old folks do.
- they live a little bit longer than we do.
- they a couple of healthier years more than we do.

i forget what the mortality was for cancer and heart disease in younger people of each of the countries.

also, if i remember aright, about 40% of our old folks die of heart diseaase and 30% of them die of cancer; the numbers were approximately reversed for the old folks of britain, 30% die of heart disease and 40%-ish die of cancer.

personally i think we should all take more and longer vacations and sit on the beach, drinking wine and watching the sunset [or watching the sunrise, drinking mimosas]. done in moderation it would add years to our lives, not to mention joyfulness.

possibly it's not the healthcare at all....