- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2009

President Obama’s promise that a government health care takeover is the key to almost every ill echoes 19th century charlatans selling elixirs that would cure everything from constipation to baldness. From controlling the growth of government to reining in private business expenditures, Mr. Obama’s health reform potion is promised as a cure-all. It’s hardly that.

This quote from his address to the joint session of Congress last month is typical: “Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result.”

The vast majority of Western countries have very extensive government health care. In country after country, as government increased its involvement, spending increased more rapidly than before and the quality of care decreased.

Last week, Fox News studied data across 30 nations. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show results that are exactly the opposite of Mr. Obama’s assurances. From 1998 to 2007, U.S. per capita health care expenditures rose on average by 7.2 percent yearly. For the other OECD nations, these expenditures rose by 8.2 percent, a full 1 percent more per year. Fourteen of 24 countries had larger growth in health care spending than the United States.


The same pattern holds if you examine data since 2000 or going back 20 years. The greater the level of government control, the faster expenses rose. The countries where government controlled more than 80 percent of health care spending experienced the largest increases in per capita outlays. Each 1 percentage point increase in government’s share of health care spending increased per capita outlays by 0.4 percent.

For all that extra spending, expansive state-run programs don’t produce better results. A new study by Professors Samuel Preston and Jessica Ho at the University of Pennsylvania shows that for the eight most common types of cancer, Americans have dramatically higher survival rates than Europeans. For all malignancies, the five-year survival rate for men is 66.3 percent in America. In Europe, it is only 47.3 percent. The rate is 63 percent for women in America, but only 55 percent for European women.

With everything from emergency-room care to chemotherapy riding on proposed health care legislation, mistakes may cost lives. The record of government-dominated health care offers a clear warning why America should not head in that direction.