Obama Health Secretary: Health Outcomes In America Are Like That Of A “Developing Country”

Which is a statement that isn’t actually true, as Politico points out:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says patient outcomes in the United States are like those in “a developing country” – and that they’ll stay that way if the health care reform law is repealed.

“The delivery system changes are what will affect underlying costs, and that impacts everybody,” Sebelius said Thursday. “We pay 2 1/2 times what anybody else pays in the world, and our care outcomes look like we’re in a developing country.”

The United States actually ranks well above developing countries on multiple health indicators, coming in right above the European Union on infant mortality and slightly below Portugal on life expectancy, according to the CIA World Factbook.

The United States does, however, regularly pay much more for common medical procedures than other developed nations. Prices for everything from the delivery of a baby to the replacement of a hip in the United States are more than double the costs in countries like Canada and Germany, according to the International Federation of Health Plans’ annual survey of medical costs.

That Americans pay more for their health care is undeniable, but there are a lot of reasons for that which aren’t going to be fixed by Obamacare.

For instance, one reason why prescription drugs cost so much more in America than other places is because other countries, with government-run health care system, implement price controls on their prescription drugs. So the drug companies, who have an enormous amount of overhead to carry in developing and marketing these drugs, make up the margin they lose selling drugs in places like Canada and Great Britain by selling their drugs for more here in America.

And if we were to begin controlling drug prices here in America, the drug companies would be left with no other option than to slow the development of new drugs.

As another example, demand for health care in America is inflated due to health tourists from places with government-run health care. Along our northern border there is a cottage industry in providing health care services to Canadians fleeing their nation’s government system which often can’t provide them the care they need in a timely manner.

America’s health care market is the pressure relief valve, in a lot of ways, for the government-run health care systems in other countries. The profits that can’t be made in other countries, the care and services that can’t be provided there, is provided here. And it inflates our prices.

As does our government’s controls on our existing system. We have health insurance mandates which require Americans to insure themselves for things they may not want or need. Prohibitions on selling insurance across state lines makes our markets static, and less flexible, and thus more costly. And our medical industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, something that also drives up cost.

Ironically, Sebelius actually complained about the amount of time it takes health care providers to develop new treatments:

“There are alarming statistics, I think, that tax payers should be outraged about,” she said. “It takes about 17 years from the identification of a procedure, to have it fully incorporated into the medical community. But in health care, we say that’s OK.”

Wondering why it takes 17 years? Government.

Our problem with expensive health care here in America has everything to do with government. And the solution has everything to do with getting government out of the health care industry, not inserting it further in.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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