America’s Flawed Health System

Ezra Klein: “Americans like to think their health-care system is number one. But a 2014 report from the Commonwealth Fund compared it with 10 other developed nations and found it’s … number 11.”


“Critics of these kinds of studies often argue they miss the point. America may not be where you want to pay a hospital bill or try and buy health insurance, but if you do have health insurance, it’s where you want to get treated if you get very sick.”

“At the Upshot, Carroll runs through a new study looking at cancer mortality in the US and 20 Western European countries. America looks good — if incredibly, insanely expensive — on breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. But America looks terrible on lung cancer, melanoma, and cervical cancer — all cancers, incidentally, where prevention can have a huge impact, and do so at fairly low cost.”

“This speaks to a larger issue that the American health-care debate doesn’t quite know how to handle: the deficiencies of the health-care system matter, but they’re not the main reason Americans, or anyone else, gets sick. For the most part, health happens outside the walls of hospitals. For all the attention the medical system gets, improving it probably isn’t the fastest or most direct way to improve people’s health.”

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