Life Expectancy and Health Care Plans

House Democrats' Health Plan.

Organizational Chart of the House Democrats’ Health Plan. Click to enlarge. Courtesy Rep. John Boehner

Health Care Debate

There has been considerable debate over health care of late and all manner of statistics presented to bolster certain points of view. I have read through some of this material but in the end I still hold the same ideas as I have held for years. I like the health care I have and I believe many millions feel the same way about their health care. Hence my view is that the answer to our current system is not a massive disruption but a gradual change to build on what works and implement improvements that are tried and tested over time.

I’ve been thinking about some wild statements that have been made that claim that the “U.S. health care system is broken” and that we should have “health care delivered the same way as countries like the United Kingdom and Canada.” I lived in England for 28 years so I am aware of and experienced health care there. I’ve lived in the U.S. for over 28 years and have had occasion to partake of health care in this fine nation. As I degenerate into greater decrepitude no doubt I will need even more health care in the future.

Life Expectancy

Now, if the U.S. health care system is so sick and socialized medicine so superior, one would think a large discrepancy would show up in life expectancy tables. Examining the CIA World Factbook 2008 estimates we find that in the United Kingdom life expectancy at birth is 78.7 years. For the U.S. the number is 78.06 years. Less than eight months difference. The U.S. stacks up very well considering that per capita violence, obesity, drunk driving, and illegal drug use is probably much higher than among Brits. Of course the United Kingdom does have soccer hooliganism that probably keeps their life expectancy down whereas the U.S. has millions of its population uninsured. I can only conclude that that these legions of uninsured are getting health care somewhere and that English soccer fans don’t hurt the national life expectancy as much as first thought.

Of course Canada weighs in with a healthy life expectancy of 80.34 years. Maybe we should copy their health care model. While we are immersed in our expectancy tables let us not stop at Canada but cast our eyes higher. Macau has the greatest life expectancy with 84.379 years. Notice the extra decimal place of accuracy in the years — Macau likes to get every last hour of life out of their citizens. Where is Macau? According to Wikipedia, Macau is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south.


So perhaps we should adopt the Macau Healthcare Model or MHM and we will all live longer. Macau is served by one major public hospital, one major private hospital, a university hospital, and numerous health centers providing free basic medical care. Consultation in traditional Chinese medicine is also available (this must be what gives them the extra edge in life expectancy). The Health Bureau is responsible for coordinating the activities between the public and private organizations in the area of public health. The Macau Centre for Disease Control and Prevention monitors the operation of hospitals, health centers, and the blood transfusion center. It also handles the organization of care and prevention of diseases affecting the population, sets guidelines for hospitals and private health care providers, and issues licenses.

Should we adopt the MHM? On reflection I will stay with my 76 years of life expectancy and forgo those extra eight years. I am just too old and I am sick of politicians saying I have to change my health care that is working very well thank you. And for all those hankering for a MHM or the equivalent, why not scoot on over to the United Kingdom and grab yourself an extra eight months of life expectancy. Steer clear of the soccer hooligans and be sure to send me a postcard.

Related Articles

Mr. President, what’s the rush? — Mitt Romney writing in USA Today.
List of countries by life expectancy
Low Life Expectancy in the United States: Is the Health Care System at Fault? — Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania

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