A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

...In Which We Praise US Healthcare -- Believe It or Not

...In Which We Praise US Healthcare -- Believe It or Not

August 21, 2007

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan's always engaging blog for this one. A British Telegraph article (click here), reporting on a new study in the Lancet, shows that the US health care system produces the best cancer survivor rates 22 nations for men and women. Here are some of the numbers for five year post-diagnosis survival rates (for the fans and critics of Canada -- sorry, it was not on the list):

FEMALE
1. US -- 62.9
2. Iceland -- 61.8
3. Sweden -- 61.7
4. Belgium -- 61.6
5. Finland -- 61.1
6. Switzerland -- 61.1
9. Germany -- 58.8
11. Netherlands -- 58.3
16. England -- 52.7
17. Ireland -- 51.9

MALES
1. US -- 66.3
2. Sweden -- 60.3
3. Iceland -- 57.7
4. Finland -- 55.9
5. Austria -- 55.4
6. Switzerland -- 54.6
9. Germany -- 50.0
12. Ireland -- 48.1
14. Netherlands -- 47.1
15. England -- 44.8

Pretty close bunching among females, at least among the top ten or so. The spread in survival rates among males is more eye-popping. These results fit with the prevailing meta-narrative on the US health care system. We do pretty well when you get really sick and need technologically advanced care. It's all the other stuff where our numbers are mediocre to poor.

Some regular blog readers knock us for only focussing on the negatives in US health care. Here's a case where the US system looks pretty darn good.
John McDonough