Thursday, July 08, 2010

Is Rwanda's Health Care better than USA's?

From John Goodman's NCPA blog:

The New York Times apparently thinks so. (And I'm not making this up. I'm not imaginative enough.) A page-one story quotes a Rwandan who feels sorry for an American college student who is uninsured! Turns out, only 8% of Rwandans lack health insurance, compared with 15.4% of Americans.

As Michael Cannon points out, Rwanda only spends $32 per person per year on health care. What do they get for that sum? Not very much:

Life expectancy at birth is 58 years, compared to 78 years in the United States.  Rwandan children are 15 times more likely to die before their first birthday (7 vs. 107 deaths per 1,000 live births) and 25 times more likely to die before turning five (8 vs. 196 deaths per 1,000 live births) than U.S.-born children. 

I know what you're thinking. You'd rather be the uninsured American college student. So would I. But that's only because you and I — corrupted no doubt by Western values — think that health care is mainly about health. Apparently, it isn't.

As Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, "permanent secretary of Rwanda's Ministry of Health," explains:

Rwanda can offer the United States one lesson about health insurance: "Solidarity — you cannot feel happy as a society if you don't organize yourself so that people won't die of poverty."

Since this is beyond my comprehension, I'll have to wait for someone like Uwe Reinhardt to explain it to me.

Something to consider when people start talking about health care rankings.

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