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May 16, 2007

Health care in U.S. is 'mess,' ethicist says

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 today'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.

The U.S. infant death rate is 6.37 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of most developed nations.

Democrats and Republicans alike have made the "world's best" claim. President Bush frequently has said Americans have the world's best health-care system. Democrat John Kerry did so when he ran for president in 2004, as did Republican Rudy Giuliani on the presidential campaign trail this year.

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Posted by healthinsurance at May 16, 2007 05:23 PM