USA: The World's Best Medical Care?

I seldom read the New York Times, because I pretty much know what I'm going to get even before picking up the paper. (image credit) But, in this morning's editorial section, there is an essay called, "World's Best Medical Care?" Here's the opening paragraph:

Many Americans are under the delusion that we have “the best health care system in the world,” as President Bush sees it, or provide the “best medical care in the world,” as Rudolph Giuliani declared last week. That may be true at many top medical centers. But the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care.
Groups like the World Health Organization and the Commonwealth Fund have ranked the US low in certain areas. The NYT piece goes on to outlines eight areas in which the US could do better which include areas like lack of universal health care, high infant mortality rate, low life expectancy at age 60, poor patient satisfaction, and being slow to adopt electronic medical records.

I'm not going to dispute most of this article. There are some good points and it is a decent analysis of how the American health care system could improve. But, like most things in the New York Times, I took it as a political commercial as opposed to an informative piece of journalism.

After throwing the US health care system under the bus for two pages, the NYT does try to make a comeback with this kind of backhanded compliment - or maybe it's not a compliment.

Top-of-the-line care. Despite our poor showing in many international comparisons, it is doubtful that many Americans, faced with a life-threatening illness, would rather be treated elsewhere. We tend to think that our very best medical centers are the best in the world. But whether this is a realistic assessment or merely a cultural preference for the home team is difficult to say. Only when better measures of clinical excellence are developed will discerning medical shoppers know for sure who is the best of the best.
Is health care the most important issue in the upcoming US presidential election? Some people think yes and this editorial is proof of that. For me, it's just too early. It's a long 15 months until the election. However, I do appreciate that health care issues are probably getting a little more press than they did a year or two ago. Nothing will change without getting the public's attention. As I always say, we'll just have to see how this all plays out....