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Letter to the Editor: Health care comparison

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gary Rust's column in the Nov. 14 Southeast Missouri cites an unnamed and undated newsletter which states that government-controlled medical care delivers more expensive and lower quality health care. This statement is not supported by the facts.

The Urban Institute, a not-for-profit and nonpartisan policy and educational organization, conducted a study in August of 2009 that addressed the quality of health care in the United States. It reached the conclusion that our medical system is not pre-eminent on quality.

According to the 2011 Pocket World in Figures, published by the Economist magazine and the 2011 CIA World Factbook, the United States spends 15.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. In contrast, the countries of Western Europe and Canada spend, on average, 9.2 percent of their GDP on health care.

Other pertinent statistics include:

* Male life expectancy -- U.S.: 77.7; Western Europe and Canada: 78.0

* Female life expectancy -- U.S.: 82.1; Western Europe and Canada: 83.3

* Doctors per 1,000 population -- U.S.: 2.7; Western Europe and Canada: 3.4

* Hospital beds per 1,000 population -- U.S.: 3.1; Western Europe and Canada: 5.2

* Infant mortality per 1,000 births: U.S.: 4.8; Western Europe and Canada: 4.2

From the foregoing, it is obvious that our health care system is too expensive and needs reform.

JOHN R. PIEPHO, Cape Girardeau