U.S. Health Care Not Best in World

In keeping with the conservative canon of his party, a Republican Senator from the State of Wyoming contended on national television that the for-profit American health care system is the best in the world, and, as proof, cited the case of Canadian Premier Danny Williams who opted to come to the United States for heart surgery rather than rely on his nation’s state-run “socialist” system. But the Senator conveniently neglect to mention that the Premier was a wealthy man for whom cost was not a factor. For an ordinary foreign wage earner the cost of medical treatment in the U.S. would be prohibitive. A Canadian clerk earning $25,000 year, for example, couldn’t possibly afford to pay for a routine $30,000 heart-bypass operation in the U.S. Though he might have to wait longer in line for the procedure, his only viable option is to rely on his Canadian public system, or even pay out of pocket under a private plan, the average cost under such a plan in Canada being one-third of a comparable one in the U.S. In most other countries, it would be even less, and with no difference in quality or success rate. Maybe the American for-profit health care system is indeed the best in the world, but if that’s the case, Why is it that no other country in the world would consider adopting it?

And why is it that rather than foreigners coming to the U.S. in droves for medical treatment the reverse is true? According to Medical Tourism statistics the number of American patients seeking healthcare abroad in 2007 was between 500,000 and 700,000, with the figure expected to double by 2011. And this not only because the cost of treatment abroad, travel and living expenses included, is considerably cheaper, but also because the technology in Medical Tourism centers is state-of-the art and the waiting period for treatment shorter than in the U.S. Leading Medical Tourism nations include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Costa Rica, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Another U.S. Senator, this one from the State of Alabama, declared that the American health care system “is the best the world has ever known." He should corroborate his data with the millions of unemployed, uninsured citizens in America. Many might have a second opinion.

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