3 Years under Obama: America is being Japanized

In November 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would examine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (aka ObamaCare), which would be compulsory to join for all US citizens. Dissatisfied with the State Supreme Court’s judgment that it was unconstitutional, the Obama administration appealed. As the President considers this act crucial to the performance of his administration, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue is eagerly awaited.

As the governors of the 26 Republican states who want to cut budgetary spending through “less government” consider the act “a violation of individual freedom”, court cases concerning the Affordable Care Act spread across the US. At the Supreme Court, opinions are mixed about whether the act is constitutional or not. The White House insists: “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.” The case is to be decided by June 2012, making its outcome likely to affect the presidential elections in fall.

The objective of the Affordable Care Act is to promote citizens’ health and longevity. If we look at the world, what country has been most successful at achieving this? What country’s citizens are the healthiest and live the longest?

In 2000, WHO introduced a new standard called Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE). This is the number of years that remains after the number of years a person can no longer live independently and requires care has been subtracted. In 2007 (the most recent data available), WHO reported that the country with the longest average HALE (76 years) was Japan. The number given for the US was 70 years.

Among other factors, the health and longevity of the Japanese people is a reflection of the country’s national health insurance system. In 2000, WHO announced that Japan had the best national health care system in the world. Its coverage was highest among all OECD countries (although more recently some problems have arisen). Considering all this, when it comes to implementing a new national health care system, the Obama administration is likely to look to Japan.


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3 Years under Obama: America is being Japanized
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