George Will’s Jan. 4 article, “The increasing costs of longevity,” simply underscores the ignorance most Americans have of both alternative health-care systems and the power of special interest lobbies. The 15 percent or so of Americans who listen to National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting System were able to hear and view in October a comprehensive comparison of health-care systems in six developed countries with that of the United States.
Veteran journalist T.R. Reid, a former Tokyo correspondent fluent in Japanese, presented systems that ranged from clearly socialistic (British), meaning that the government ran the show, to the Japanese system, which is fundamentally free-market based, with considerable government regulation.
The upshot is that countries like Japan, the country with the longest life expectancy and overall healthiest people, pay 6 percent of GDP for a superior health-care system while the U.S. spends more than 12 percent of GDP and still has approximately 40 million people who are not insured for medical care.
Reid pointed out that Japan is going to have to devote more of its GDP to medical care as the ratio of working supporters to elderly declines. Will on the other hand presented a health-care system where competitive bidding is absent, and strong health-care companies control the legislation and even the media, which should inform the citizens of alternative systems. Americans are easily controlled and manipulated by business interests and the Fourth Estate is culpable in perpetuating this deplorable situation.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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