Is the American health care system really rivaled by Cuba's?
If you believe that Americans have lousy health care, it is probably not because you have experienced inferior heath care. It is probably because you were told America has lousy health care.
Last week, major news media featured these headlines:
Reuters: "U.S. scores dead last again in healthcare study"
Los Angeles Times: "U.S. is No. 1 in a key area of healthcare. Guess which one ..."
NPR: "US Spends The Most On Health Care, Yet Gets Least"
The Week: "US health care system: Worst in the world?"
Now let's delve into this widely reported headline as written by Reuters.
For those readers who rely on a headline to get news -- and we all do that sometimes -- the issue is clear: America is rated as having the worst health care "again."
For those who read the first sentence or two, an even more common practice, the Reuters report begins this way: "Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday. The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found."
For those reading further, the claim of the headline and of the first two sentences is reinforced. The third sentence offers commentary on the study by the head of the group that conducted it: "'As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it,' Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters ..."
Only later in the report does the discerning reader have a clue as to how agenda-driven this report and this study are. The otherwise unidentified Karen Davis, president of the never-identified Commonwealth Fund, is quoted as saying how important it was that America pass President Obama's health care bill.
Could it be that Ms. Davis and the Commonwealth are leftwing?
They sure are, though Reuters, which is also on the Left, never lets you know.
Here's how the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 Report from the president begins: "The Commonwealth Fund marshaled its resources this year to produce timely and rigorous work that helped lay the groundwork for the historic Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama in March 2010."
As for Davis, she served as deputy assistant secretary for health policy in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Jimmy Carter administration all four years of the Carter presidency. And in 1993, in speaking to new members of Congress, she advocated a single-payer approach to health care.
I could not find any mainstream news report about this story that identified the politics of Karen Davis or the Commonwealth Fund. If they had, the headlines would have looked something like this:
"Liberal think tank, headed by single-payer advocate, ObamaCare activist, and former Carter official, says America has worst health care"
Conversely, imagine if a conservative think tank had released a study showing that, in general, Americans had the best health care in the world.
Two questions: Would the media have reported it? And if they did, would they have neglected to report that the think tank was conservative? The answer is no to both.
In microcosm, we have here four major developments of the last 50 years:
1. The Left dominates the news media in America; and around the world, leftwing media are almost the only news media.
2. The media report most news in the light of their Leftwing values (whether consciously or not).
3. Most people understandably believe what they read, watch or listen to.
4. This is a major reason most people on the Left are on the Left. They have been given a lifetime of leftist perceptions of the world (especially when one includes higher education) and therefore regard what they believe about the world as reality rather than as a leftwing perception of reality.
The same thing happened on a far larger scale in 2000 when the world press reported that the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) ranked America 37th in health care behind such countries as Morocco, Costa Rica, Colombia and Greece.
This WHO assessment was reported throughout the world and regularly cited by leftwing critics of American health care. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no one other than a few conservatives noted that Cuba was ranked 39th, essentially tied with the United States.
Which means that the WHO report is essentially a fraud. Who in his right mind thinks Americans and Cubans have equivalent levels of health care? For that matter, how many world leaders travel to Greece or Morocco instead of to the United States for health care?
The answer is that WHO doesn't assess health care quality; it assesses health care equality, exactly the way any organization on the Left assesses it. And since the world's and America's news media are on the Left, they report a Leftist bogus assessment of American health care as true.
Imagine this headline around the world: "World Health Organization declares America and Cuba tied in health care."
Of course, only Leftists would believe that. But since non-Leftists would realize how absurd the claim was, that is not what anyone was told. Instead, the world and American media all announced "America rated 37th in health care by World Health Organization."
These two reports illustrate why so many people in America and around the world think America's health care is inferior and why they support movement toward nationalized health care.
But these two reports are only one example of the larger problem -- the world thinking is morally confused because it is informed by the morally confused. How else explain, for example, why America, the greatest force for good among nations, is hated, while China, never a force for good, isn't?
The answer is, unfortunately, simple: Garbage in, garbage out.
Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His website is www.dennisprager.com.