Henri E. Stetter: Health care

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In these pre-election days, one item seems to be rather far away from the candidates' minds, and yet it concerns everyone all over the nation: the health of all citizens.

It will take a lot more than diet and exercise to fix America's health.

Americans are constantly told that their health care is the best in the world. In terms of research, technology and advances in surgery, the boast is perhaps true.

In other ways, it is very hard to justify. At any one time, more than 43 million Americans younger than 65 have no health insurance.

The infant mortality rate for black Americans is 14 for 1,000 live births, double the rate for white Americans and four times as much as in Japan. Indeed, in a 2000 study of the effectiveness of health care systems around the world, the world health organization ranked the United States as 37th (France came on top).

If all of this speaks ill of the nation as a whole, the situation in some states is far worse. In a state such as Texas, 44 percent of the non-elderly population was without health insurance for all or parts of 2002 and 2003.

This is a poor reward for spending more on health care than any other country. In the United States, health care accounts for about 15 percent of the GDP. In Japan or the UK, it is 8 percent of GDP.

This is one of many serious challenges facing the country, and it would deserve more time and more detailed explanations from all candidates.

Henri E. Stetter

Stagecoach

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