By Stuart Browning
A case in point is Howard Fineman's column in the June 18 edition of Newsweek. Having just attended a Washington press screening of Sicko, he writes about the increasingly urgent calls for government-run health care:
It would be nice to think that the urgency is the result of outrage at our mediocre infant-mortality and life-expectancy numbers, which are among the worst in the developed world.
The truth, however, is that even if we were to adopt a single-payer system, our infant mortality and life expectancy numbers would still compare unfavorably with Canada and other OECD countries for the simple reason that they have little or nothing to do with the quality of our health care system.
Life expectancy averages are determined by a multitude of factors such as ethnicity, culture, and crime rates. Asians live longer than whites. Whites live longer than blacks. Canada has more Asians than blacks. Infant mortality rates are likewise determined by a host of factors having nothing to do with our health care system. The chief cause of infant mortality is very low birth weight babies. The U.S., for reasons having to do with ethnicity and culture, has more low birth weight babies than Canada and other OECD countries.
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