A fraud not only is stating something that is untrue, but also failing to state something that is necessary to avoid making a true statement misleading. A material omission as amounting to a fraud is a basic legal concept certainly familiar to this administration.
So it is for the frequent assertion that we spend more per person on health care, but have a shorter life span than other industrialized countries. True, but there is a failure to state material facts necessary to avoid the misleading impression that the shorter life span is a result of our health care system.
In fact, we do have a shorter life span, but not because of our health care system. So points out Steve Chapman today:
It’s true that the United States spends more on health care than anyone else, and it’s true that we rank below a lot of other advanced countries in life expectancy. The juxtaposition of the two facts, however, doesn’t prove we are wasting our money or doing the wrong things.
It only proves that lots of things affect mortality besides medical treatment. Heath Ledger didn’t die at age 28 because the American health care system failed him.
One big reason our life expectancy lags is that Americans have an unusual tendency to perish in homicides or accidents. We are 12 times more likely than the Japanese to be murdered and nearly twice as likely to be killed in auto wrecks.
In their 2006 book, “The Business of Health,” economists Robert L. Ohsfeldt and John E. Schneider set out to determine where the U.S. would rank in life span among developed nations if homicides and accidents are factored out. Their answer? First place.
That discovery indicates our health care system is doing a poor job of preventing shootouts and drunk driving but a good job of healing the sick. All those universal-care systems in Canada and Europe may sound like Health Heaven, but they fall short of our model when it comes to combating life-threatening diseases.
A half-truth is not the truth. But there’s so little time to uncover all the half-truths driving this administration.