News | May 16, 2007

U.S. Health Care Deemed 'Dysfunctional'

May 17, 2007 — The U.S. health care system is "a dysfunctional mess," and politicians who insist otherwise look ignorant, according to a medical journal essay by a prominent ethicist at the National Institutes of Health.

"If a politician declares that the United States has the best health care system in the world today, he or she looks clueless rather than patriotic or authoritative," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Emanuel, who supports sweeping health care reform, said the U.S. spends $6,000 per person per year on health care, an amount that is more than 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and more than any other country.

He also said Americans' average life expectancy of 78 ranks 45th in the world, behind Bosnia and Jordan. And the U.S. infant death rate is 6.37 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of most developed nations.

President Bush frequently has said Americans have the world's best health care system, but Emanuel stopped short of calling Bush clueless in his essay and during an interview with The Associated Press.

"I work for the federal government. You can't possibly get me to make that statement," Emanuel said in the interview.

Emanuel's proposal involves phasing out Medicaid, Medicare and employer-sponsored health insurance. Under his plan, all Americans would get a basic package of insurance, would choose their insurance carrier and could buy upgraded coverage. The program would be funded by a value-added tax of about 10 percent on businesses.

Democrats and Republicans alike have made the "world's best" claim. Democrat John Kerry did so when he ran for president in 2004, as did Republican Rudy Giuliani on the presidential campaign trail this year.

David Hogberg, senior policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research, said a strong case can be made that the U.S. health care system is the best.

"It depends on what measures you use," Hogberg said. Life expectancy is influenced by many factors other than health care, he said, and nations measure infant death rates inconsistently. Other measures show the United States performing well, he said.

Related Content

Houston Methodist Hospital Enters Multi-Year Technology and Research Agreement With Siemens Healthineers
News | Imaging | August 17, 2017
Houston Methodist Hospital and Siemens Healthineers have entered into a multi-year agreement to bring cutting-edge...
Patient Complexity, Subspecialization Impact List Prices for Radiologists' Services
News | Business | August 15, 2017
A new study by the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute finds that patient condition complexity and...
Upcoming radiology conferences, meetings and events.
News | August 14, 2017
ITN maintains a comprehensive listing of radiology specialty meetings on its website at ...
ACR Establishes Education Committee for Patient- and Family-Centered Care
News | Patient Engagement | August 09, 2017
Members of the new Education Committee of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Commission on Patient- and Family-...
ACR Annual Conference on Quality and Safety Offers Strategies for Radiology Practices
News | Business | August 08, 2017
The American College of Radiology (ACR) Annual Conference on Quality and Safety, scheduled for Oct. 13-14 in Boston,...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Business | July 28, 2017
Angelic McDonald, MSRS, CRA, FAHRA, regional director of imaging, Baylor Scott & White Health and the president-e
Radiation dose tracking in medical imaging is helping increase patient safety by lower X-ray doses.
Feature | Radiation Dose Management | July 26, 2017 | Dave Fornell
Patient X-ray radiation exposure from medical imaging has been a hot topic in radiology the past few years and has pr
Radiologists Seek Greater Involvement in Patient Care
News | Patient Engagement | July 20, 2017
Despite time and workload constraints, radiologists are looking for ways to become more directly involved in the care...
ACR Updates Radiation Oncology and Medical Physics Guidance With ASTRO and AAPM
News | Radiation Dose Management | July 19, 2017
July 19, 2017 — The American College of Radiology (ACR) recently collaborated with professional medical societies to
Overlay Init