Last night, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren interviewed Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and asked him about his recent claim that seniors “are going to die soon” if the Senate health care bill passes. “You’re going to see services eliminated. It’s going to lower the life expectancy of a lot of seniors!” Colburn complained.
Later, when asked what message he wanted to get “to the American people,” Coburn celebrated the current health care system in the U.S.:
VAN SUSTEREN: If you could get one message out to the American people tonight about this health care bill, what’s the bullet point message?
COBURN: We need to start over. We need to fix what’s really wrong in health care and we need to protect what’s really great. What’s really great is if you’re really sick anywhere in the world, this is the best place to be sick, it just costs too much.
Health care costing “too much” explains why the U.S. is not the best place to be when you’re sick. The U.S. has the most costly health care system in the world, spending just over 15.2 percent of GDP (the United Kingdom, which relies mainly on the single payer model, pays 8.3 percent).
A 2007 Commonwealth Fund study concluded that, “[c]ompared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom — the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.” In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. health care system 37th, behind countries such as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, the UK, Oman, and France.
In fact many retirees who don’t yet qualify for Medicare are choosing to get sick in Mexico. USA Today reported in September that tens of thousands of American retirees are moving south of the border because health care is too expensive in the U.S.:
It sounds almost too good to be true: a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, free medicines, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses, even dental work — all for a flat fee of $250 or less a year. …It’s unclear how many Americans use IMSS, but with between 40,000 and 80,000 U.S. retirees living in Mexico, the number probably runs “well into the thousands,” said David Warner, a public policy professor at the University of Texas.
“They take very good care of us,” said Jessica Moyal, 59, of Hollywood, Fla., who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a popular retirement enclave for Americans.
Mexico’s health care system “was one of the primary reasons I moved here,” said another retiree, adding, “I couldn’t afford health care in the United States.”