Dear Mr. Alexander:
Thank you for shining the spotlight on the Affordable Care Act in your recent Veiwpoint column (Not so affordable health care, March 1). I love the Valley News and always find your columns amusing if not informative and thought provoking. Your column on the ACA however really does a disservice to your readers and misses an opportunity to encourage individuals on the fence about signing up for health insurance to do so. (Later in this piece I will provide the information on how to do just that.) Your perception about the efficacy of the new health care reform law appears to be more informed by FOX News than by the facts on the ground. Let’s review some of your questions and assertions and compare them to reality.
We’ll start with your question: “Looking back, one has to wonder how could we ever justify making such a major change to the American health care system, clearly seen as the best in the world.” The American health care system by most measures is nowhere near the “best in the world”, although it is clearly the most expensive. According to the World Health Organization the U.S. ranks only 37th among countries with advanced economies for overall population health. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 found that in 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy. Bloomberg.com last year found that the US healthcare system in terms of efficiency ranked 46th out of 48 advanced economy nations. We can do better than this and the Affordable Care Act puts in place powerful incentives for our health system to improve. There are many other factors that fueled the long over-due reform of our health system, to include: