Michael Kinsley's column in the Washington Post captures one of my vaguely uneasy fears:
Statistics on life expectancy or infant mortality are averages. The easiest way to raise your averages -- maybe even the best way, if we're being honest -- is to concentrate on the general level of care and not to squander a lot on long-odds cases. But if the long-odds case is you or a family member, you may well feel differently.
Our twins - more accurately, the one who lived for 11 days as opposed to the one who died in utero - was a long-odds case who spent all of his short life in one of the the highest-rent district of the hospital - the neonatal intensive care unit. As his parent I would have been outraged if I'd been told that the odds were such that it didn't make financial sense to treat him.
I've spent a little time with Google tonight and there certainly are statistics to say that England and Canada - two nations with universal coverage - have better longevity rates and better infant mortality rates than we have in the US. Some of the commentary on those statistics, though, suggests that the statistics - as they often do even if they're mathematically correct - fail to encompass the whole story and that there are other factors reflected in those numbers other than just the health care systems of the respective countries.
It is a complex situation that deserves careful, transparent consideration with all parties represented - both private and public. We should not rush this decision to meet any arbitrary deadline.