by Max Brantley
Belatedly, a link to today's Paul Krugman addressing Bush's insensitive and pig-stupid remarks on health care. (Hey, need health care? Go to an emergency room.) The best part addresses the myth of superior health care in the U.S. in the lack of waiting time for medical services (for those lucky enough not to be among the 40 million without health coverage).
A recent article in Business Week put it bluntly: “In reality, both data and anecdotes show that the American people are already waiting as long or longer than patients living with universal health-care systems.”
A cross-national survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that America ranks near the bottom among advanced countries in terms of how hard it is to get medical attention on short notice (although Canada was slightly worse), and that America is the worst place in the advanced world if you need care after hours or on a weekend.
We look better when it comes to seeing a specialist or receiving elective surgery. But Germany outperforms us even on those measures — and I suspect that France, which wasn’t included in the study, matches Germany’s performance.
Besides, not all medical delays are created equal. In Canada and Britain, delays are caused by doctors trying to devote limited medical resources to the most urgent cases. In the United States, they’re often caused by insurance companies trying to save money.