In my travels, I have frequently run into the claim that America is doing worse than other industrialized nations when it comes to our health care. Our political opponents often state, for example, that even though we spend more on health care as a nation, our life expectancies are lower – and they wield such numbers like bludgeons in their war to remake our entire health care system.
If, like me, you need ammunition to take down leftist pro-single-payer shibboleths – and if you have $5 to spare – I recommend reading Commentary‘s devastating critique of the WHO study upon which much of the left’s case is based:
World Health Report 2000 was an intellectual fraud of historic consequence—a profoundly deceptive document that is only marginally a measure of health-care performance at all. The report’s true achievement was to rank countries according to their alignment with a specific political and economic ideal—socialized medicine—and then claim it was an objective measure of “quality.”
WHO researchers divided aspects of health care into subjective categories and tailored the definitions to suit their political aims. They allowed fundamental flaws in methodology, large margins of error in data, and overt bias in data analysis, and then offered conclusions despite enormous gaps in the data they did have. The flaws in the report’s approach, flaws that thoroughly undermine the legitimacy of the WHO rankings, have been repeatedly exposed in peer-reviewed literature by academic experts who have examined the study in detail. Their analysis made clear that the study’s failings were plain from the outset and remain patently obvious today; but they went unnoticed, unmentioned, and unexamined by many because World Health Report 2000 was so politically useful. This object lesson in the ideological misuse of politicized statistics should serve as a cautionary tale for all policymakers and all lay people who are inclined to accept on faith the results reported in studies by prestigious international bodies.
As it turns out, the aforementioned life expectancy stats include deaths due to homicides and car crashes in addition to deaths due to natural disease — because, of course, it is totally reasonable to believe that the best health care system in the world should be able to put a poor shooting victim’s brains back in his skull and re-animate, Frankenstein style, his cooling corpse.