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In Stable Condition

U.S. health care isn't as bad as you think. But it could get a lot worse according to a new study.

2:40 PM, Mar 29, 2012 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Why do more Americans oppose Obamacare than support it? "Most Americans don't want to be forced to take on insurance," says Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and professor at Stanford University. But, he goes on, the problems are much worse than that and the more one learns about the current quality of health care in the United States, the more wary one becomes of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Atlas is in town promoting his new book, In Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on America's Health Care—recommended reading for all, but especially lawmakers and aspiring presidential candidates.

health care

I just received the book (the timing couldn't be better), but Atlas provided an in-depth presentation at a lunch today sponsored by the Hoover Institution. And before the author could answer questions about the Supreme Court's impending decision and why costs for health care are going up and not down, Atlas first turned to the World Health Report of 2000, which continues to lead many to believe the United States lags in health care, with 35 countries ranked ahead of it. The report also put life expectancy in this country at 42nd in the world. And why is infant mortality so high?

Atlas dismantles the report, exposing its flaws (extensively laid out in the book). He then moved on to Obamacare and the notion that 50 million Americans are uninsured—the number is closer to 13 million (there are some 18 million Americans who are eligible for insurance but haven't opted for it). Interestingly, Medicare turns down more claims than any of the other private insurers (Aetna came in second). Atlas also reminds us of the Obama mantra that under his plan, individuals can keep the same insurers and doctors, and that the only difference is their premiums will be lower. But some insurers' premiums have already gone up because of health care reform.

To be sure, Atlas says the president's plan had some merit. It is a good idea for people to have insurance—but the government should be helping them get insured, not acting as the insurer, he says. And Americans should have a right to purchase insurance across state lines—he calls the current setup "archaic." In fact, Atlas describes the president's reforms as "well intentioned."

What's that saying about the road to Hell?

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