New Study Critical of U.S. Uses Unreliable Measures on Health Care


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: David Hogberg
(202) 543-4110 or [email protected]
For Release: August 3, 2006



Washington, D.C.
- A new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) uses misleading statistics on the effectiveness of a health care system, concludes National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Policy Analyst David Hogberg, Ph.D. 

In their new study, "Is the U.S. a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?"  CEPR researchers John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer conclude that, "the U.S. health care system is highly inefficient, yielding poor outcomes despite high levels of expenditures."  Schmitt and Zipperer base America's alleged poor performance on the measures of life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, and obesity.

"The statistics used in the report tell us a lot about the biases of the study's authors," say Hogberg, "but next to nothing about a health care system."

As Hogberg showed in a National Policy Analysis paper published by The National Center for Public Policy Research in July, academic research reveals that life expectancy is affected by factors such as GDP per capita, literacy, and sanitation.  Measures such as health care spending have no effect.  The National Policy Analysis paper also showed that infant mortality is measured too inconsistently across nations to be a reliable indicator of a health care system.

"Maternal mortality also suffers from inconsistent measurement," says Hogberg.  "Obesity is determined by individual choices about diet and exercise.  Other than some warnings from your doctor, the health care system can't do much about the obesity rate," he says.

"When one looks at factors that a health care system can actually influence, like cancer or heart attack survival rates, the U.S. iconsistently is tops among other nations," Hogberg said.

'When left-wing groups like CEPR examine health care, they always choose statistics that make the U.S. look bad.  They seldom ask if the statistics are really meaningful," says Hogberg.  "That's good for promoting their agenda favoring more government-run medicine, but bad for actually making informed decisions about health care policy."

The National Policy Analysis paper "Don't Fall Prey to Propaganda: Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are Unreliable Measures for Comparing the U.S. Health Care System to Others," by David Hogberg, Ph.D., is available online at www.nationalcenter.org/NPA547ComparativeHealth.html.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market think-tank established in 1982 and located on Capitol Hill.

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