Effective, but true? Rudy claims the survival rate for prostate cancer in the UK (by which I assume he means the five-year survival rate) is a dismal 44%. It looks to be about 70% as of 2001 from this UK cancer resource site, although that may combine patients who used NHS with patients who sought private care. According to the National Cancer Institute of Canada, as of 15 years ago, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer was upwards of 90%. A robust prognosis — assuming you don’t mind queueing up and suffering for awhile, which many universal health care participants do. The question, per this National Post article about “medical tourism” up north, is whether suffering Canadians who don’t want to wait for government health care while they’re in pain are in worse shape than suffering Americans who can’t afford U.S. care in the first place:
Yasmeen Sayeed, chief executive officer of Surgical Tourism Canada, said her client list has steadily increased since she opened shop in July 2005.
But Ms. Sayeed acknowledged that medical tourism is far less of a big deal in Canada than it is in the U.S., where 500,000 Americans went overseas for treatment in 2005.
The reason for the difference is cost. Americans are used to paying for medical care, said Ms. Sayeed. Canadians aren’t because of their country’s universal publicly funded health care. Medical care overseas for Canadians means money out of their pocket, she added.
But for millions of Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured, purchasing medical care overseas can be cheaper than buying it at home.
NCPA, a conservative think tank, published some numbers a few weeks ago showing how the U.S. system compares favorably to Europe’s in treating cancer. Digest them now because if you think the partisan battle over Iraq casualty statistics is fierce, wait until this debate gets going.
Update: Embarrassing. You’re going to put out an ad on one of the two or three hottest domestic issues of the campaign and have your numbers be off by 30%? I fact-checked this stuff in five minutes of googling. The Democrats will have a field day with it.
[T]he data Giuliani cites comes from a single study published eight years ago by a not-for-profit group, and is contradicted by official data from the British government.
According to the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics, for men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1999 and 2003, the “five-year survival rate” — a common measurement in cancer statistics — was 74.4 percent.
There might be a reason that explains the eight-point spread that doesn’t depend on the payment system, either:
Don McCanne, a senior health policy fellow at Physicians for a National Health Program, conceded that the five-year survival rate for cancer diagnoses is higher in the United States than in many countries that have single-payer systems, though the disparity is not as great as Giuliani claims in his ad.
But he said that any such comparison is flawed, since it fails to take into account the additional investment in cancer education and screening in the United States. Much of the gap would be closed if other countries invested similar sums in catching cancer early.
If all Americans had access to preventive care, screenings, and treatment — through a single-payer system or another universal healthcare plan — the five-year survival rate would almost certainly be increased, since cancers would be caught sooner.