NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 17, 2007

The American Cancer Society's decision to devote this year's entire advertising budget to a campaign for universal health coverage is unfortunate, as evidence shows that universal coverage does not improve survival rates for cancer patients, says Betsy McCaughey, chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and former lieutenant governor of New York.


  • U.S. women have a 63 percent chance of living at least five years after diagnosis, and men have a 66 percent chance -- the highest survival rates in the world.
  • In Great Britain, which has had a government-run universal health-care system for half a century, the figures were 53 percent for women and 45 percent for men, near the bottom of the 23 countries surveyed.


  • A 2006 study in the journal Respiratory Medicine showed that lung cancer patients in the United States have the best chance of surviving five years -- about 16 percent.
  • A report released by the Commonwealth Fund showed that U.S. women are more likely to get a PAP test every two years than women in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where health insurance is guaranteed by the government.
  • In the United States, 85 percent of women ages 25-64 have regular PAP smears, compared with 58 percent in the United Kingdom.

What is deadly are delays in treatment and lack of access to the most effective drugs, problems encountered by some uninsured cancer patients in the United States but by a far larger proportion of cancer patients in countries with centralized medicine, says McCaughey.  Cancer patients do well in a few small countries with national health insurance, such as Sweden and Finland, but they do better in America than anywhere else on the globe.

Source: Betsy McCaughey, "Cancer Killers," Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007.

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