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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

US 49th in Life Expectancy but don't tell John Boehner

Coming soon to your health insurance plan, especially as the deficit commission plans to shift more costs from employers to workers.
Please Mr Obama, stop caving in on the needs of the people who are your true "boss".  Listen up and stay away from those back room deals with politcos...
Inefficiency Hurts U.S. in Longevity Rankings By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
November 29, 2010

By any measure, the United States spends more on health care than any other nation. Yet according to the World Fact Book (published by the Central Intelligence Agency), it ranks 49th in life expectancy.
Researchers writing in the November issue of the journal Health Affairs say they know the answer. After citing statistical evidence showing that American patterns of obesity, smoking, traffic accidents and homicide are not the cause of lower life expectancy, they conclude that the problem is the health care system.
Peter A. Muennig and Sherry A. Glied, researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, compared the performance of the United States and 12 other industrialized nations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition to health care expenditures in each country, they focused on two other important statistics: 15-year survival for people at 45 years and for those at 65 years.
The researchers say those numbers present an accurate picture of public health because they measure a country’s success in preventing and treating the most common causes of death — cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes — which are more likely to occur at these ages. Their data come from the World Health Organization and cover 1975 to 2005.
Life expectancy increased over those years in all 13 countries, and so did health care costs. But the United States had the lowest increase in life expectancy and the highest increase in costs.
In 1975 the United States was close to the average in health care costs, and last in 15-year survival for 45-year-old men. By 2005 its costs had more than tripled, far surpassing increases elsewhere, but the survival number was still last — a little over 90 percent, compared with more than 94 percent for Swedes, Swiss and Australians. For women, it was 94 percent in the United States, versus 97 percent in Switzerland, Australia and Japan.
The numbers for 65-year-olds in 2005 were similar: about 58 percent of American men could be expected to survive 15 years, compared with more than 65 percent of Australians, Japanese and Swiss. While more than 80 percent of 65-year-old women in France, Switzerland, and Japan would survive 15 years, only about 70 percent of American women could be expected to live that long.
In narrowing the blame to the American health care system, the researchers first eliminated several other factors. Obesity and smoking are the most important behavior-related causes of death, but obesity increased more slowly in the United States than in the other countries and smoking declined more rapidly, so neither can explain the differences in survival rates. Homicide and traffic fatality rates have remained steady over time, and social, economic and educational factors do not vary greatly among these countries.
But not all experts agree with this analysis. Samuel Preston, a demographer and a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, says the analysis is faulty.
“The basic message is correct — that measures of U.S. health, including mortality and morbidity, are very poor in comparison with other countries,” he said. But the Columbia researchers “have no direct evidence about the health care system in this article,” he continued. “Their conclusion is extremely speculative.”
That they did not find smoking at fault, Dr. Preston said, “is mysterious to me, particularly since they show high lung cancer mortality for the U.S.” Dr. Preston has published widely on mortality trends and the effects of smoking.
Dr. Muennig conceded that the study examined only life expectancy and health care spending in the 13 countries, and not the structure or economics of health care. “We did a pretty good job of showing that smoking isn’t the culprit,” he said.
“Smoking and obesity are still major risk factors for an individual’s health,” he said. “But they are sapping life expectancy in all countries. Whereas in the U.S. we have a highly inefficient health system that’s taking away financial resources from other lifesaving programs.” SOURCE
and from UPI, trends in waiting, as the health insurance reform bill waits to go full throttle -

Some insurers switch to cheaper drugs

UPPER NYACK, N.Y., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Health insurers change as much as 70 percent of medication prescriptions, resulting in adverse reactions among some patients, a U.S. survey indicates.
A survey by the Global Healthy Living Foundation, a non-profit patient advocacy group, found some patients with chronic conditions who responded well to a particular drug relapsed after being switched to a cheaper drug.
"This disturbing finding is not a simple case of switching a brand-name drug for a generic one, a common and generally accepted practice used for many illnesses, and one GHLF supports," Louis Tharp, executive director of the GHLP, says in a statement. "We found that health insurance companies throughout the U.S. switch one brand-name drug for another simply because the switched drug is cheaper -- if the drugs are identical, physicians generally have no objection, the survey found, but national medical groups have said most drugs are not identical and switching can cause adverse reactions and poor recovery rates."
Tharp says his group is working with other advocacy groups, state insurance commissioners, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state attorneys general to see what action can be taken to stop the practice.
"Switching is a practice that is starting to get a lot of attention," Tharp says.
"Legislation pending in New York, California and Missouri would outlaw this practice," and, he added, "Louisiana passed a law last year prohibiting it."
No survey details were provided.
Perhaps this abstract from says more, just like the Harvard study that found only 80% or modern medicine actually works...

Medical Errors Contribute to Hospital Deaths -
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a landmark report, To Err is Human, documenting the extraordinary high rate of fatal medical errors at U.S. hospitals: medical errors caused 98,000 deaths and more than a million injuries a year, most being preventable.  

Two major recent analyses of U.S. hospital safety found NO IMPROVEMENT in patient safety.

One study, by a Harvard Medical School team analyzed medical errors at 10 North Carolina hospitals found: "harm to patients was common and the number of incidents did not decrease over time."  For every 100 patients admitted to a hospital, 25 suffered harm requiring medical intervention.

The other study, by the U.S. Inspector General of the DHHS, analyzed 1,000,000 Medicare patients' hospital records documenting that 1 in 7 suffered adverse events during hospitalization in the month of October, 2010.  The IG report calculates the cost of such errors to taxpayers to be several billion dollars a year.

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