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NC wishes we had UK’s problems

 A big story – front page in the Guardian, right next to her picture – in Britain today:  Growing inequality in the healthcare system.  It’s so bad that lower-income manual workers have an infant mortality rate of 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births- 17% higher than the national average of 4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Sounds bad, but then you think of North Carolina.  Our overall infant mortality rate reported by Action for Children NC, is 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.  Oh, wait, what about among whites?  6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.  Among all other races?  13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. 

Our cousins across the pond are worried about inequality?  We’ve got more than they could ever dream of in NC.  Good thing we’ve got our market-based health system working overtime at far more than twice the cost of the UK's to deliver those figures.  Bottom line:  A baby born to a well-off family here in NC has more of a chance of dying than babies born to the poorest families in the UK.  Looks like we’ve got some work to do.

13 Comments

  1. Jerimee

    March 13, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks Adam. I wonder how the JLF will respond.

    Max? How much do you think healthy babies are worth in the mythical free market?

  2. evelin

    March 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Great way and time to remind us of these differences in our health care systems. I am glad you added the statistics since I am sure the headline will be used by free market health care reform promoters as an example of how “socialized medicine” is failing.

  3. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Sigh.
    a) We don’t have anything close to free-market healthcare.
    b) There are myriad causes for infant mortality and they don’t all have to do with the healthcare system. If they did, rich people would have different metrics. This is apples and oranges comparisons anyway, because the Brits calculate this differently — as, for example, we count the death of premies differently to the way they do.
    c) Jerimee – you’re being silly. Talk to me when you turn 18.

  4. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Oops, besides… Poor people have Medicaid, which is effectively the same thing. So why is your vaunted Medicaid system failing so spectacularly? Back to the drawing board, Adam.

  5. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  6. Jerimee

    March 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    So the discrepancy is explained away by idiosyncrasies in how these figures are calculated?

    What are the causes for infant mortality that don’t have to do with the healthcare system?

  7. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    If the difference is 3 babies out of every thousand, don’t you think you could find at least two occasions out of every 1000 in which doctors unsuccessfully attempted to save a premature baby but failed (counted as an infant death). This is not counted as an infant death in Europe, but as a stillbirth or a late-term miscarriage. Don’t you think that’s possible?

    We might also want to look other factors like what percentage of mothers giving birth have drug problems, diabetes, and other lifestyle factors that could be different among nations and harmful to babies. In any case, it’s just goofy to chalk this up to the difference between the NHS and our Medicaid/PPO system.

  8. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  9. Brian

    March 13, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    “What are the causes for infant mortality that don’t have to do with the healthcare system?”

    Try this…
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/business/04view.html

    “Infant mortality rates also reflect broader social trends, including the prevalence of infants with low birth weight. The health system in the United States gives low birth-weight babies slightly better survival chances than does Canada’s, but the more pronounced difference is the frequency of these cases. In the United States, 7.5 percent of babies are born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5.5 pounds), compared with 5.7 percent in Canada. In both nations, these infants have more than 10 times the mortality rate of larger babies. Low birth weights are in turn correlated with teenage motherhood. (One theory is that a teenage mother is still growing and thus competing with the fetus for nutrients.) The rate of teenage motherhood, according to the O’Neill study, is almost three times higher in the United States than it is in Canada.

    Whatever its merits, a Canadian-style system of national health insurance is unlikely to change the sexual mores of American youth

    The bottom line is that many statistics on health outcomes say little about our system of health care.”

  10. gregflynn

    March 14, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I have a friend in London who is an Ob/Gyn attending at both a public and a private hospital. She has delivered the progeny of high society and the hoi polloi alike. At private hospitals there are fewer patients and more bodyguards, (who sometimes get in the way of care). When complications occur, few private physicians have the experience to address them, hence the presence of specialists from the public sector. Small private hospitals are also not equipped to the same extent as large public hospitals. When problems arise, patients are referred to public maternity facilities, where demand exceeds supply. This is not a case for either public or private but there has to be some happier medium where all people have access to care based on the condition of their bodies and not their bank accounts.

  11. Max

    March 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    WOW, Greg. You put London (UK) and healthcare supply and demand in the same sentence and didn’t bat an eye. That’s pretty good. Ever heard of the famous NHS waiting list?

  12. gregflynn

    March 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I like to throw some meat in the water every now and then to see what’s lurking below the surface.

    I hear there’s a 9 month waiting period for pregnancies. :)

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