The United States is worse than 40 other countries when it comes to infant mortality. A report published on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) said babies born in the U.S. have a higher risk of dying within the first month of life than babies born in 40 other countries.
The report provides the most comprehensive view on the infant mortality rates of more than 200 countries in the last 20 years.
The countries which outranked the U.S. in terms of neonatal death rates are South Korea, Cuba, Poland, Andorra and Israel. Although the rate of infant death has dropped over the last 20 years in the U.S., preterm birth is still a major predicament faced by the U.S. healthcare system, said Joy Lawn, the study researcher of the Save the Children Foundation, which helped WHO with the study. Preterm babies need extra care which is often very expensive and unaffordable by the uninsured people in the U.S.
US Healthcare Lagging Behind?
In 1960, the country had the 12th lowest infant mortality rate, but by 2009 it came down to the 29th position and now lags behind 40 countries, including some from the developing world. According to an earlier report published by CDC, between 2000 and 2005, there was no improvement in the neonatal death rate. The infant death rate of 6.89 per 1000 in 2000 remained almost stagnant till 2005 and 2006. However, the rate slightly came down in 2011, making it 6.06.
According to CIA World Factbook, infant mortality is defined as follows: This entry gives the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year; included is the total death rate, and deaths by sex, male and female. This rate is often used as an indicator of the level of health in a country.
If the child mortality rate is a true indicator of the health of a country, the new report then puts a serious question on the U.S. healthcare system.
Issues that Exasperate the US Healthcare
Despite attempts of the healthcare reformers to make the U.S. healthcare affordable, accessible and effective for all, issues that still perturb the system are:
Millions of Uninsured Citizens: Reports say that in the U.S. as many as 45 million people are uninsured. The basic reason for the problem is the initial cost of buying a policy and an outrageous amount of premium associated with medical insurance. As a result, uninsured people often fail to avail the best treatment for themselves and their family members. Without insurance they lose access to preventive care which weakens the general health of the society.
Faulty Public Health Insurance Coverage: Medicare, the most known and successful public health insurance policy of the U.S., has often come under criticism. Medicare serves only people over 65 but comes with a complex and critical reimbursement policy. Experts believe the Medicare is not sustainable and the government should ensure a better and more affordable healthcare coverage for the aging patients.
Inconvenience of Care: Reports suggest getting care at nights, on weekends or holidays is almost impossible in the U.S.
Erroneous lab, medical and medication: Americans are most likely to face lab, medicine and medical errors. Studies show a high number of lawsuits filed against a high rate of medical error.
Healthcare Reform Act, 2010
The 2010 Act aims to extend coverage to atleast 32 million uninsured citizens. Apart from adults, children will also benefit from the new Act. Medicare policy-holders, who fall into the coverage gap, will get a rebate of $250.
The Reform Act promises a better and healthier America. Although the infant mortality rate has damaged the image of a healthy America, hope for a better future still endures.