INTERESTING STUFF – 29 November 2010

Call Congress Day and Comparative Health Costs

As I noted last week, today is Call Congress Day. The reason is that tomorrow, President Obama's deficit commission (also known as the cat food commission) will issue its final recommendations to reduce the deficit.

Commission co-chairs, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, published their own report a couple of weeks ago containing drastic cuts to current and future Social Security and Medicare benefits. It is not known how the report may be changed before the final release.

With so many in Washington apparently believing that Social Security contributes to the deficit (you know, of course, that it does not - not one penny), it is important for those of us who are less ignorant and/or venal to let our representatives know where we stand.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has set up a toll-free hotline to your congressional representatives:


Of course, you may also email if that is more convenient. Find your representatives' email at

If you would like some help with talking points for your call or email, Citizen K left this link to a remarkably succinct and understandable explanation of how excellent Social Security really is.

Please call today and tell your representatives, Hands Off Social Security. If we don't, who will?

The International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) is a group of health industry leaders from 31 countries representing 100 companies. Following their recent meeting in San Francisco, they issued a Comparative Cost Report [pdf] of medical and hospital fees in various countries.

The charts are too large to reproduce here; shrinking them would make them unreadable. Instead, here are the average prices from selected countries for three common medical costs – all are listed in U.S. dollars.

Cataract Surgery
(Total hospital and physician cost)
Argentina $351
Canada $927
U.K. $1299
Spain $1667
France $3352
U.S. (average) $14,764

France $0.43
Canada $31
U.K $39
Switzerland and Germany $78
U.S. $129

Average Cost Per Hospital Day
Argentina $319
Chile $543
France $909
New Zealand $3220
U.S. $3612

In every instance among the 23 IFHP charts, the United States reports the highest costs. Most of the represented countries have some form of socialized medicine administered by the government or through private providers subsidized by the government.

In three of the standard health benchmarks:
• With the exception of Argentina, every country listed by the IFHP has a higher life expectancy at birth than the U.S.

• With the exception of Argentina again, the U.S. has higher infant mortality rate than the countries listed in the IFHP charts.

• With six exceptions in the IFHP charts, the U.S. has highest number of preventable deaths per 100,000 population.

Certain – usually right-wing – politicians, while denouncing “Obamacare,” are fond of referring to U.S. health care as “the best in the world.” But according to survey reported last January in The New England Journal of Medicine, the U.S. health care system ranks 37th in the world and, they say, “the United States is falling farther behind each year.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Almost Worthless


Written my representatives. Since I live in Texas, that means all of my representatives are Republicans. All I ever get in response are trite and spun form letters.

At least I attempted to get my voice heard.

Yup, time to get back on on the phones. Diane Feinstein, I will afflict you!

I'm just back from Nepal, one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, and laid up with a touch of pneumonia. But I have a tidbit about health costs to share that makes it utterly clear why we need a single payer system: when my fevered body was dragged into the western medicine travel clinic in Kathmandu, I was asked whether the doctor would have to fill out forms for a US insurance company. If yes, it would cost $85 to be seen. Otherwise, $55.

You get where our money goes ...

Made the calls; emailed my representatives and Facebooked the phone number on to friends. Hopefully they will follow through...

I had trouble with the hot line. I didn't hear any place to leave a message or to forward one to my representatives. I wrote an email that will go to all of them plus the president.

I tried other numbers for my representatvies and on Kyles number I got a recording that his number was not in service. I wonder why. ;-(

Before I read this, I had already written my letter to Lindsey Graham and one to President Obama.

Next: Researching residence in Great Britain.

In 1960 I was booking hospital rooms for my father who was a well-known surgeon in the Los Angeles Area. A private room at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital was $48/day, semi-private $32. What in the world has happened to our health care systm?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)