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States are like those in “a developing country” – and that they’ll stay that way if the health care reform law is repealed.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.

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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  • Information

    Healthcare and costs in the US are a joke… You’ll be penalized if you don’t have it but the real question is who can afford it? A 3,000 deductible if you’re lucky… It’s a shame that people of this nation have to beg for help or go outside of the country for help!

    • ndoldman

      Just like the HHS clown when she ment to say if we don’t repeal obummer care it will look like the third world out comes. Just think the ones with health insurance already subsidize the ones without and the government with the rules in place already make the costs go up. elderly already have rules in place that make the costs go up.

    • ndoldman

      it should be misinformation, go collect your 2 cents from the democrat party

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    But Andy Griffith says Obamacare is peachy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WG5yNxyd3g

  • DopeyDem

    Want to cut costs and speed up the process for all medical procedures?
    Tort Reform.

    • 2hotel9

      Oop, there it is.

    • Jamermorrow

      I actually don’t think tort reform will do much. Bigger costs come from an increase in the money supply(inflation), regulations, medicaid and medicare. The supply of doctors is controlled by the AMA. Supply is somewhat fixed yet demand keeps going up. Obama care will raise demand but not touch supply. Higher costs are coming. Tort reform will not change any of these factors.

      • Meyerjh

        Tort reform would eliminate at least 20% of the cost of HC. Not because of jury awards, but because of the many needless tests that are done, and because of the out of court settlements. My daughter (family practice) says that approximately 1/3 – 1/2 of the tests she orders are mostly unnecessary.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    wow, I guess we know how credible this idiot is. Why doesn’t she go get her treatments in Havana from now on if it’s so much better than ours?

  • mickey_moussaoui

    It really depends on where you live. We have four excellent hospitals within twenty minutes of each other. I hate to see how the democrats are destoying health care in America. The thing that pisses a person off is how they lie to advance their agenda. They just do not give a damn about the truth as long as they can grab a little more power.

  • Bat One

    If Obama and his HHS harridan have their way, the US WILL be a third world country.

    • Onslaught1066

      You mean like Kenya?

      • $8194357

        Where the dual citizens daddy comes from….

  • Jimmypop

    rob, im shocked….. you missed the BIGGEST reason healthcare is so cheap!!!

    the NDSU bison have a basketball player over in spain (i think)….a couple years ago he wrote an editorial in the fargo forum telling us how GREAT the healthcare was in spain and we were CRAZY to fight barrycare. i think he even sighted the cost he and family had to pay for while in spain. what a neat deal!! cheap as heck! (I know for a fact healthcare in europe is VERY, VERY cheap). here is the problem, he didnt make any money playing basketball so he got to avoid any REAL pain. the real pain of INCOME TAXES.

    you will notice (see link below) you pay almost 40% income tax in spain of you make over 33,000 euro ($45,000 us). add in other fees (an example; a drivers license in germany is around 2,000 euro…. roughly $3,000 (us). while we pay $10 (see link) in north dakota.) and taxes, and i bet youre easily to 50%+. you make $45,000 a year and HALF your cash is gone at that level…… HOLY GOD!!!

    http://www.spainaccountants.com/rates.html

    http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/driverslicense/dlinfo.htm

    summary: add in what they pay in income taxes and healthcare here in the usa is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY cheap. our service is better and we get to pick what healthcare we want and form whom we want it. no contest. there is a reason the world comes here for cures. usa all the way.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Excellent point.

  • banjo kid

    I have a hard time trusting someone who looks like Lurch.

    • DopeyDem

      You are right. She’s turning into a female John Kerry. Or is it the other way around?

  • SigFan

    Sebelius is just like her boss, a bold-faced liar, saying whatever she believes is needed to advance their power-grabbing agenda. If our system sucks so much how is it that a stories like this occur here, everyday:

    I have some friends at church. They have a one year old granddaughter that was born with a defective heart. Through drugs they kept her going for the first year of her life but knew that she would need a heart transplant before she reached age two. She is in the hospital today, after a 3 month stay hooked up to a machine to keep her heart pumping, and received a transplant just last night. Barring rejection, which they have much better ways of controlling today, her prognosis is good and her chances of survival and growing up to be a healthy normal child and adult are rated at 90% by her surgeons and will go higher as the days tick by.

    If this child were in Canada or Great Britain, she would be dead right now because some damn bureaucrat decided it’s just too expensive to provide this kind of treatment. And these are hardly “developing countries”. If we allow Obamacare to stand we will end up with Canadian or UK style health care or worse here. And in all likelihood it will be worse simply because of the population size of the US in comparison to those countries. Obamacare and Sebelius and all the rest of these power drunk lying fools have got to go.

  • 2hotel9

    Funny, if healthcare in America is so sh*tty why is everyone on the planet trying desperately to get here for it?

  • Jamermorrow

    I like my health care. I also like my doctor. I don’t want to pay for all the heart attack waiting, couch potato, obese Americans health care.

    • 2hotel9

      Then why do you keep voting Democrat and supportoing government run healthcare stupid f*ck?

  • Sane Moderate
    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Note that those health care costs for other countries don’t necessarily include all the taxes citizens there pay for their health care.

      Also, we have the best health care in the world. Look at cancer survival rates, as one example.

    • 2hotel9

      “Who is out of touch with reality here?” That would be you, Sebelious and Barri. If healthcare in America is so massive expensive and crappy, all at once, why are people flocking here to get it? Oh, yea, you;ll just spew more of the same lies and propaganda. Till you need healthcare, at which time you will run to a local doctor and get whatever treatment and pharmaceuticals, and pay a quite reasonable price for it.

  • awfulorv

    If these Government agencies were to investigate the obvious, they would conclude that the downward incidences of cancers is directly attributable to the decline in the purchases of those awful, albeit quicker, ,carbonated wine drinks, such as” Bartles and James”. He wrote, medically..

  • Sane Moderate

    Rob, actually these studies generally do include the taxes (this isn’t private sector payments, it’s percent of GDP spent on health care, public or private — between Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, etc., the US is half public and that’s included, too). Not saying that the comparisons are easy and there are probably even some errors on the margins, but it’s REALLY hard to argue that the US is spending its dollars efficiently.

    And while there may be a few particular diseases where the US compares well if you want to cherry pick, the life expectancy comparisons pretty much cut through all of that, and we don’t look good on life expectancy. If you click through to the “Mortality Amenable to Health Care” paper mentioned in the Forbes article (link below) it shows where we are strong (cancer, as you say) and where we are weak (infectious diseases, endocrine, prenatal, respiratory, etc.).

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kgj35f9f8s2-en

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Actually, the studies don’t provide an accurate picture of what government-run health care costs them. For instance, do you think Canada quantifies the amount of commerce they lose across the border to the United States.

      Of course not.

      As for life expectancy, that’s a tricky animal. We Americans are a violent, unhealthy people. We live different sorts of lives than people in other parts of the world, and because of that we don’t live as long.

      It isn’t quality of care. If it were, you’d have to wonder why so many people from foreign countries come to america to get care.

      Also, there’s the waiting lines…

      So yeah, I guess that if you squint really hard and ignore some inconvenient truths, you’ve got a point.

  • Sane Moderate

    Well, you seem to be conceding that the US has higher costs and worse life expectancy, so that’s progress… :-D

    Life expectancy is indeed a tricky animal, which is why the study I forwarded you to focuses on identifiable sources of avoidable mortality within the health system itself. Crime and such isn’t included (see point 45 on page 23) — the US system would look even worse if it were. For many identifiable specific diseases the US system doesn’t perform that well, and has been improving more slowly than other countries and in aggregate our numbers are much worse and our costs are much higher.

    As far as the lines, anecdotes are plentiful, but good data is hard to find. I think the data supports the idea that the US is a net exporter of health care services (i.e., you’re right in that more people come here than leave here to get treatment elsewhere). The report below has some numbers through at least 2007.

    http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4084.pdf

    That said, a health care services trade surplus of $1.5-2 billion is a rounding error in the whole health care system (which is pushing $2 trillion annually), so it would be hard to argue that so many people are traveling to the US for care from the other systems that it changes any of the fundamental conclusions about how the US compares. We still spend too much for what we get in results.

    I may be squinting, but at least my eyes are open…

    • 2hotel9

      “seem to be conceding that the US has higher costs and worse life expectancy” And yet another lie from the lying liar. Try again.

      • Sane Moderate

        No need. I feel like I’ve made my points — if you are unwilling to be convinced by facts and statistics and are only willing to rely on blind faith in reply, I won’t bother you further. Your comment is a fittingly delusional conclusion to this one-sided debate, sort of like Saddam Hussein’s “monument to victory” after the first Gulf War.

        • 2hotel9

          Keep spewing your lies, they are all you have. Oh, and the best medical care system on the planet. Don’t thank anyone, not till it saves your life, stupid a$$.

  • awfulorv

    Third world countryism is probably why the oil Sheiks, the sultans, the kings and queens, the worlds billionaires , when they ,desperately, need medical expertise seem to always head for little old Rochester, Minn. This women is a lying Leftist, pure and simple. They will say anything to make their incompetent leader look not quite so bad. She was the one primarily responsible for inviting in, and enriching, that late term abortionist George Tiller,”The Killer”. May all her grandchildren ,be born deformed, at the time a directive is issued, and it will be, to euthanize all deformed babies.

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