November, 2008

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Rebekah Carey

Outlook for U.S. Health Care

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

American history was made at American polls this past week. Not only the race of the new president is notable, but the rate of voting participation was one of the highest ever.

With a new president at the helm, those of us in health care wonder what this may mean. For all we hear about universal health care, increased taxes to pay for those who cannot pay, and the high cost of modern health care technology and services, let us first look at some of the facts:

  • Infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 6 per 1000; in Wisconsin, 6/1000; in Milwaukee it is 12 per 1000. Among African Americans in Wisconsin, it is 15 per 1000.
  • Life expectancy for Whites is 75 years and for Blacks it is 73 years. The U.S. has the 42nd life expectancy in the world, lower than Cuba, Taiwan, and most of Europe.
  • The GDP for health care in US is 18% vs 8% in other countries.

The conundrum is that despite the fact the US spends more (much more) than other developed countries, overall health outcomes are poorer. What could be the cause? For one, the U.S. has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Paul Terry, an epidemilogist at Emory University in Atlanta flatly states, ” The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy.” One third of U.S. adults are obese. Twenty percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.

How do we tackle these issues? The promotion of public health to reduce tobacco use, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar are key areas to address. These factors have been identified for years. The strategies for addressing them are varied. The rewards for both the consumer and the health care provider are endless. WLC’s nursing students will be prepared to accept the challenge. They will bring an intellectual curiosity and sophistication to their profession which will reflect their preparation in a Christian liberal arts college.

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