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Life Expectancy and Single Payer Health Care

Jumping aboard the single-payer boat?

Today's breast cancer patients have 40 percent better chances of beating cancer than prior generations. Prostate cancer kills 52 percent fewer men than a couple decades ago. Thanks to American technology and diagnostic techniques our odds of cancer survival have greatly improved. But it comes at a tremendous cost.

As we look for ways to cut those costs one solution is single payer (government run) health care. Single payer has worked in Britain.

Just don't look at their dreadful cancer survival rates.

Granted, American pharmaceutical companies need more oversight, but Americans have benefited from their life-sustaining drugs. In a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Stanford economist Victor Fuchs, claims the way to make universal health insurance affordable is to curtail use of mammograms, costly new drugs, and diagnostic technologies.

Fuchs goes on to argue that Americans have become enamored with high-tech care. To have affordable health care, we're going to have to have less of it.

Okay. But if we don't detect cancer early and don't use the costly cancer-fighting drugs to treat it, we lose the battle without a fight.

But this isn't just about cancer. Millions have benefited by taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol and advanced techniques like thrombolytic therapy to prevent stroke damage.

Fuchs claims that "less innovation is not always less harmful". Tell that to my childhood friend battling multiple myeloma. He's fighting with all the power of American medical technology. It's not cheap, but he's paid in a career's worth of insurance premiums to wage the battle.

When Americans look to Canada as an example of a "well-run" government health care system, they also need to examine the wait times for service. The American Enterprise Institute recently shared some discouraging news for patients needing advanced care, and the challenge to receive it.

While we here in America are battling the high costs of insurance premiums, we are not fighting a single-payer system that reduces the survivability of cancer, or delays in needed care due to system overload.

Yet, there is one huge health care cost that we the people can control: obesity. Since 1980, twice as many Americans are obese. Cancer and heart disease are directly attached to this. If we force everyone into a single payer system, you can bet that our diet will soon be under government control too. 

Before we jump aboard the single-payer boat, let's make sure where it will take us.

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