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For the health of it



My friend in Canada is a retired teacher whose life in their universal health care system astonishes me. Twenty years ago, she had a hysterectomy requiring a hospital stay. She brought in baskets of organic vegetables she wanted to eat, which they cooked and served to her.

Some years ago, at retirement, she had bouts of serious depression. It was recommended that she check into a mental health facility for a month of intensive care, treatment and rest. In phone calls, she said patients there had access to an exercise facility and a 24-hour soup-and-sandwich bar. She took daily walks around the grounds with an attendant who suggested she use sun-blocker.

Living independently again, she recently checked in for a colonoscopy procedure that revealed polyps, which were removed. She told me she has one every five years because of a family history of colon cancer.

Most Canadians love their national health care system, into which everyone pays while they work. Canadians who can pay any price do come to the U.S. for "the best treatment in the world," but such "treatment on demand" is available only to those buying Cadillac care.
The World Health Organization ranks nations by general health and longevity indicators. WHO's year-2000 report stated: "The U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country, but ranks 37th out of 191 countries according to its performance." A Wall Street Journal article cited 2009 United Nations statistics indicating that the U.S. ranks 24th in male life expectancy and 35th in female life expectancy. In preventing under-age-5 mortality, the U.S. placed in the 30s. It is shocking that the U.S. ranks at the bottom of all 25 developed and industrialized nations in health outcomes for people. The top four healthiest U.S. states are Minnesota, Hawaii, Nebraska and Massachusetts. Oklahoma ranks 44th.

Health care security should be a No. 1 priority in the world's wealthiest nation.
"Nathaniel Batchelder
Oklahoma City

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