American health care is often compared unfavorably to health care in Canada, France, Great Britain, and others, based on shorter life expectancy and higher infant motrality rates in the US. Critics also point to 47 million uninsured Americans and the relatively high cost of health care in the US.
Professor N. Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard University, currently an adviser to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, spoke out recently about "true but misleading statements about US health care that politicians and pundits love to use to frighten the public."
The difference in life expectancy between the US and Canada has more to do with higher rates of obesity and more teenage pregnancies in the US resulting in low birthweight babies. While contributing to big differences in comparative health outcomes between the two countries, they have little to do with the American system of health care.
The often quoted statistic of 47 million uninsured Americans exaggerates the magnitude of the problem as well. The Census Bureau number includes about 10 million non American citizens, many undocumented, who would probably not be covered if the US had national health insurance. The actual uninsured number far less than 47 million and accounts only a few percent of the population, which is why the U.S. should be wary of sweeping reforms of our health system.
The final statement is that Americans spend a greater share of their income on health care -from about 5% of a person's income in 1950 to 16% now. The increase is not due to waste, fraud and abuse, but advances in medical technology and prescription drug cost increases. Americans should not to be fooled by statistics into thinking that the problems we face are worse than they really are.