the best healthcare, or a flawed system?

FT columnist Christopher Caldwell asserts that 85% of US residents enjoy the best healthcare in the world. An FT reader explains what this implies for the other 15%.

In considering the public rage about Obamacare, one factor is often ignored. It is true that about 15 per cent of residents used to have no healthcare at all. But for those who did, the system was the best in the world.

Christopher Caldwell, “Obama is making healthcare worse for Americans“, Financial Times, 16 November 2013.


[Mr Caldwell] states that about 15 per cent used to have no healthcare, so presumably it is the other 85 per cent enjoying the “best in the world”.

According to the World Health Organisation, the best in the world for neonatal deaths are Sweden and Japan at two per 1,000 live births (with most European countries just behind at three and Cuba at four). The US equivalent number is six.

So if the 85 per cent are enjoying two deaths per 1,000 live births, then, mathematically, the other 15 per cent are experiencing about 28 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is a level that is only regularly beaten by sub-Saharan Africa.

No wonder the American healthcare system so badly needs fixing.

Christopher Wright, “‘Best system’ is in a sorry state“, letter to the editor, Financial Times, 23 November 2013.

American journalist Christopher Caldwell (born 1962) is a senior editor of The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative opinion magazine. Christopher Wright is a resident of London (UK).

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