John Stossel

But how much of that is due to the government's increasing the cost of care and insurance through mandates, a tax code that encourages reliance on expensive insurance and bureaucratic red tape?

The Commonwealth Fund's study has other problems. It was based on telephone interviews with patients and doctors. So it grades nations on people's perceptions without controlling for their expectations. Yet patients who live in a country with long waits for medical care and bureaucratic inefficiency may have low expectations.

More ridiculous is the arbitrary way the Commonwealth Fund assigns weight to each of its measures. The proportion of patients who say they got infected at a hospital counts about the same in the "quality" measure as the proportion of doctors who use automated computer systems to remind them to tell patients their test results. Those things aren't equal in my book.

The study's authors also consider having high administrative costs and spending the largest share of GDP on health care worse than having the highest share of patients who wait four months or more for surgery. This seems designed to make the U.S. look bad.

Finally, the study penalizes nations for having large numbers of patients who spent more than $1,000 on medical care out of pocket, as if third-party payment is somehow superior.

Michael Cannon, the Cato Institute's director of health policy studies, summed up what's wrong with the study: "The report does nothing more than reveal which nation does the worst job of satisfying the subjective preferences of the people who conducted this study."

Fans of the Canadian system should note that Canada ranked fifth out of six and did worse than the U.S. in many ways.

Are you listening, Michael Moore?


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate