Facts about America’s health care quality that the world doesn’t know

To justify more government control of America’s health care, ObamaCare supporters frequently assert that access to and quality of health care in the United States are poor. However, the facts from source documents and medical journals show that Americans enjoy superior access to care compared to nationalized systems, the very systems put forth as models for ObamaCare — whether defined by wait-times for diagnosis, treatment, or specialists; timeliness of surgery; access to screening; or availability of medical technology and drugs. The separate issue of quality of care also demands analysis of objective data – and that means data from peer-reviewed medical journals, rather than subjective “rankings” and surveys by advocacy groups.

Even before medical care quality is compared, one should understand that a population’s lifestyle, behavior, and heterogeneity impact health outcomes and life expectancies, even when medical treatment is sound.

For instance, cigarette smoking and obesity are proven to increase risk for serious diseases, worsen outcomes from those diseases, and decrease life expectancy—even with excellent medical care. And their impact is huge.

Cigarette smoking alone accounts for about 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five, each year in the US, and is independently responsible for about 35 percent of all heart attacks, particularly fatal ones, and about 20 percent of strokes.

ecause smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, it causes or exacerbates many additional diseases, and it worsens outcomes from surgery and innumerable other treatments.

Obesity is now linked to greater risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, all of the most prevalent cancers, and worse treatment outcomes after heart surgery, trauma and burn surgery, and transplants. It is not simply that rates of diseases are higher; the treatment outcomes are significantly worse for cigarette smokers and obese patients.

Why would these behaviors have particular impact on US health care rankings?

First, the prevalence of obesity is far higher in the United States than in all other OECD nations.

Second, the United States harbors a far higher burden of cigarette smoking than other nations.

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