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Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.

Commentary

In praise of U.S. health care
Michael Tanner, Washington Times, 10-1-05

Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and prostate cancer survivor, points out that for patients with serious illnesses the U.S. remains very much the destination of choice:

In most countries with national health insurance, the preferred treatment for prostate cancer is ... to do nothing. Prostate cancer is a slow-moving disease. Most patients are older and will live several years after diagnosis. So it is not cost-effective under socialized medicine to treat the disease too aggressively. This saves money, but at a more human cost.
Though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their counterparts in other countries, we are less likely to die from the disease. Less than 1 in 5 American men with prostate cancer will die from it, but 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men will. Even in Canada, a quarter of men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from the disease. Ö
There are problems with the American health-care system. Too many Americans lack health insurance and/or are unable to afford the type of care I received. Ö
Yet we should never forget that America offers the world's highest-quality health care. Most of the world's top doctors, hospitals and research facilities are in the United States.

The American system is certainly ripe for critique on many grounds. But its commitment to market pricing and cutting-edge medical technology has paid dividends not only for U.S. patients, but patients around the globe who gain access to American innovations a year or two after they are first developed. Nationalized health care systems guarantee access, but also lead to bureaucracies that are concerned with costs first, and health second. Rationing and price controls are the inevitable result. This is a trade-off we can make, but letís keep in mind that itís a devilís bargain.



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