Healthcare, Obesity, and Wikipedia Data, Oh My!

20/20 John Stossel Exposes Canada Care and Socialized Medicine

A former co-worker posted the above video about healthcare on Facebook, which brought up some discussions I have been having with people.  Many people have been saying Canada’s healthcare is lacking, and according to the video above that seems to be the case.  I think we instantly look to Canada’s healthcare because it is the closest socialized medicine nation to what we could compare ourselves with (besides, they are our friendly neighbors to the north).  Any time someone has talked about Canada’s healthcare, I point them to the list of life expectancy by country on Wikipedia.  The US is #50 and Canada is #8 (see below).  Obviously, healthcare can’t be the only contributing factor, but what other factors can you think of?

Rank by
Entity Overall life expectancy at birth
1 Macau ( China) 84.36
2 Andorra 82.51
3 Japan 82.12
4 Singapore 81.98
5 San Marino 81.97
6 Hong Kong ( China) 81.86
7 Australia 81.63
8 Canada 81.23
9 France (metropolitan) 80.98
10 Sweden 80.86
11 Switzerland 80.85
12 Guernsey 80.77
13 Israel 80.73
14 Iceland 80.67
15 Anguilla 80.65
16 Cayman Islands 80.43
17 Bermuda 80.65
18 New Zealand 80.36
19 Italy 80.2
20 Gibraltar 80.19
21 Monaco 80.09
22 Liechtenstein 80.06
23 Spain 80.05
24 Norway 79.95
25 Jersey 79.75
26 Greece 79.66
27 Austria 79.5
28 Faroe Islands 79.44
29 Malta 79.44
30 Netherlands 79.4
31 Luxembourg 79.33
32 Germany 79.26
33 Belgium 79.22
34 Saint Pierre and Miquelon 79.07
35 U.S. Virgin Islands 79.05
36 United Kingdom 79.01
37 Finland 78.97
38 Jordan 78.87
39 Isle of Man 78.82
40 South Korea 78.72
41 European Union 78.67
42 Puerto Rico ( US) 78.53
43 Bosnia and Herzegovina 78.5
44 Saint Helena 78.44
45 Cyprus 78.33
46 Denmark 78.3
47 Ireland 78.24
48 Portugal 78.21
49 Wallis and Futuna 78.2
50 United States 78.11

She (my former co-worker) pointed to health statistics on BMI which was smart, I never would have thought to do that.  As you will see below, America is an overweight nation.  The US is #1 and Canada is #11, but I don’t think there is too much of a correlation to show that correlation equals causation (my sociology professor would be so proud) here, which is exactly my point.  If our healthcare is so great, and our BMI levels not that far off from other nations with much better life expectancy, why are we #50?

I’m sending this to a Canadian counterpart to get his take on healthcare as well.  I mean, after all, “Canadians strongly support the health system’s public rather than for-profit private basis, and a 2009 poll by Nanos Research found 86.2% of Canadians surveyed supported or strongly supported “public solutions to make our public health care stronger.”[4][5]

A 2009 Harris/Decima poll found 82% of Canadians preferred their healthcare system to the one in the United States, more than ten times as many as the 8% stating a preference for a US-style health care system for Canada[6] while a Strategic Counsel survey in 2008 found 91% of Canadians preferring their healthcare system to that of the U.S.[7][8]. In the same poll, when asked “overall the Canadian health care system was performing very well, fairly well, not very well or not at all?” 70% of Canadians rated their system as working either “well” or “very well” [9] A 2003 Gallup poll found only 25% of Americans are either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with “the availability of affordable healthcare in the nation,” versus 50% of those in the UK and 57% of Canadians. Those “very dissatisfied” made up 44% of Americans, 25% of respondents of Britons, and 17% of Canadians[10]

In November 2004, Canadians voted Tommy Douglas, Canada’s ‘father of Medicare'”) the Greatest Canadian of all time following a nationwide contest.[11][12]

I want to open the conversation up to you.  What other data can we look at to show why the US would have a lower life expectancy than our neighbors to the north if not obesity, or healthcare?  If you send data, please site your sources for everyone to benefit from.  Thank you!


One thought on “Healthcare, Obesity, and Wikipedia Data, Oh My!

  • Barbara CRain says:

    Health care is certainly the major reason for the relatively low life expectancy in comparison with other countries. However, there are other factors as well,one of them is the fact that many people don’t get more than between 2-4 weeks off work per year. And, often they don’t dare take them off.

    Well, in other countries you go to a spa for about 4 weeks in case of a serious disease such as cancer and that is on top of the regular 4-6 weeks off per annum.

    In Germany you not only get your 4-6 weeks off per year, you also get money for going in vacation and you get a 13th salary around Christmas.

    I am very glad to working in the US education system which allows me a bit more than two months off per year. Otherwise I think I would have gone back. It is hard to work without much of a break.

    This information is from first-hand experience; I am European.

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