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Sunday, November 4, 2007
Beyond those health care numbers
By N. Gregory Mankiw
Here are three true but misleading facts about health care that politicians and pundits in the United States love to use to frighten the public.
The United States has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, which has national health insurance.
The differences are indeed significant. Life expectancy at birth is 2.6 years greater for Canadian men than for American men. Among women, Canadians outlive Americans by 2.3 years. Infant mortality in the United States is 6.8 per 1,000 live births, compared with only 5.3 in Canada.
These facts are often taken as evidence for the inadequacy of the U.S. health system. But a recent study by June and Dave O'Neill, economists at Baruch College, from whom these numbers come, shows that the difference in health outcomes has more to do with broader social forces.
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