Health-care letter lacked perspective

Andy Reese's letter "Put health-care issue in perspective" (Dec. 21) contends the United States is not among the top countries of the world with regard to health-care. In his letter, Mr. Reese confuses the easier-to-measure health statistics with the more-difficult-to-measure health care.

For example, many factors affect national longevity and infant mortality rates other than the quality of health care. In this respect, U.S. statistics are a victim of diversity. Countries with top-rated health care (actually top-rated health statistics) are without exception those with a very homogenous population, such as Switzerland and Japan. If we only consider the majority U.S. population group of Caucasians of European descent and Asians of Chinese and Japanese descent, our health statistics shoot to the top few countries in the world.

Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- our diversity includes racial and ethnic groups prone to abuse their own health, including high rates of HIV infections from risky sex, drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco use, homicide, gang-related violence, incarceration for criminal activity, high rates of teen pregnancy and even high-fat and high-sugar diets.

Within these same minority groups, there often is a lower value placed on education with attendant large high-school drop-out rates. The resultant high unemployment and low-skill/low-pay jobs make health care and health-care insurance unaffordable for them even if it were one of their priorities.

In the end, we will throw more money into welfare health-care entitlements without seeing much improvement in health statistics for this large segment of our population. This will not occur until they change their values and their behavior. This is the real change that needs to be made.

Donald L. Davis, Evans

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