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Last in Credibility

The liberal campaign to discredit American health care.

Aug 16, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 45 • By DAVID GRATZER and MERRILL MATTHEWS
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While cancer isn’t the only important disease, it does serve as a good proxy for the overall performance of a system. And when hard data are compared, the U.S. system shines. 

In the recent Commonwealth Fund study, Canadian health care bests the U.S. system. But a quick review of the literature suggests American patients fare better: They are more likely to survive cancer and a heart attack, and they do better after a transplant operation.

And what about Canadians’ universal care and access to free preventative services? In a review of survey data, economists June and David O’Neill find that Americans have greater access to preventive screening tests and higher treatment rates for chronic illnesses. Even more surprising: Canadian poor (covered by the public system) are less healthy relative to the nonpoor than their American counterparts. You’ll see none of these results in the latest offering of the Commonwealth Fund, of course. 

American health care is far from perfect. It needs reforms. And, yes, some of the harshest criticisms offered by the Obama White House are true: Costs are rising; quality is uneven; transparency is limited. But a meaningful analysis needs to weigh strengths against weaknesses, not promote a partisan agenda disguised as academic research.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation. David Gratzer, a licensed physician in Canada and the United States, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

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