The 42nd Best Health Care Non-system in the World — The U.S.

Sad but not surprising news regarding the U.S.’s child mortality being reported in Lancet (full text online May 24 and available with registration). The report notes declines in the rate of child death worldwide but our rate of decline (the U.S.’s) is significantly less than elsewhere. Currently 6.7 child deaths/1000 occur here. In most of Europe and Canada the rate is now under 5–in Singapore it’s under 3. There appears no good explanation for this discrepancy other than the unevenness and cost of our non-system.

Underscoring historic recent gains in global health, the number of children younger than 5 who die this year will fall to 7.7 million, down from 11.9 million two decades ago, according to new estimates by population health experts. But as much of the world makes strides in reducing child mortality, the U.S. is increasingly lagging and ranks 42nd globally, behind much of Europe as well as the United Arab Emirates, Cuba and Chile.

Singapore, the country with the lowest child mortality rate in the world at 2.5 deaths per 1,000 children, cut its rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2010. Serbia and Malaysia, which were ranked behind the U.S. in 1990, cut their rates by nearly 70% and now are ranked higher.

The data instead suggest broader problems with the nation’s fragmented, poorly planned healthcare system, Murray and other healthcare experts say. Although the U.S. spends nearly twice as much per capita on healthcare as most other industrialized countries, researchers are finding substantially higher levels of preventable deaths from diseases such as diabetes and pneumonia.

Other countries with slow rates of decline include Britain, New Zealand and South Korea, which have all fallen in the international rankings since 1990. All three are still ahead of the U.S.

link: Child mortality rates dropping, study finds, but U.S. lags

Medicynical Note: The article in the LA Times puts some faith in notion that the newly enacted health care law will approach our uncoordinated non-system that costs twice as much as elsewhere. That remains to be seen as many in our culture don’t feel there is a collective responsibility to assure access to affordable health care. In this we remain a remarkable outlier in the world.


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