Thursday, September 4, 2008

Presidential Health Care Politics: Part I

I write this as I await the acceptance speech of John McCain for Republican nominee for President of the United States. In the past few weeks I have noticed how issues that were once so important in the primaries (e.g., health care) are now hardly mentioned at all in the candidates discourse. I wonder if now that the candidates are facing off against each other the issues will shift to no longer include a reorganization of the US healthcare "system" and will be replaced with promises about strengthening the economy, improving education, and winning the war in Iraq (all important issues, as well -- and ones that are inextricably linked to the health of our country).

My passion for improving peoples' health and well-being has led me to try and understand which candidate will put into effect policies that will improve the nation's health. The United States (which spends outrageously more on health care than any other country in the world) ranks about 30th in life expectancy! Most estimates compare the United States to other countries in the OECD, where the US life expectancy falls well below the average. While years of healthy life expectancy in other countries has continued to increase, health improvements in the US has stagnated. And that's not all - There is nearly a 20 year gap in life expectancy within the United States! The average life expectancy in the District of Columbia is 72 years, 18 years less than the life expectancy in Hawaii. A recent publication draws attention to the "8 Americas" and I encourage any interested in health inequalities in the United States to take the time to read it.

The variability in health outcomes across our own nation is disturbing. It is an issue that needs to be addressed -- and now is the time. I listen with anticipation to here what the Presidential candidates will say about this critical issue that affects the lives of us all -- whether we realize it or not.

1 comment:

Mere said...

At least we're beginning to see healthcare becoming a true issue -- with both candidates acknowledging that some kind of change in our current system is sorely needed. What change? I'm on the edge of my seat too.

Here is a nicely charted comparison of the candidates' proposed plans by the Kaiser Family Foundation: