My father-in-law is ill and has been hospitalized for a couple of weeks in Israel. Life expectancies in Israel are the fourth highest in the world (especially impressive given various populations that exist on the margins of the mainstream–Bedouin in the Negev, extremist Haredi sects, Arabs in rural villages), but it’s clearly not because of the quality of care one gets when one needs hospitalization. I won’t bore readers with all the details, but let’s just say an illegal immigrant with no insurance showing up a random American hospital would get far better care than my fully insured father-in-law has gotten at one of the best hospitals in Israel–and even that care would have been worse if my sister-in-law didn’t have some connections at the hospital. Indeed, my physician sister and brother-in-law tell me that if said hypothetical illegal alien in the U.S. had received the care my father-in-law has received in Israel, he would have multiple valid medical malpractice claims against the hospital.
I know readers are expecting some sort of political point to conclude this post, but I don’t have one. The U.S. medical system is screwed up in many ways, and I don’t know enough about Israel’s system to definitively compare the two. But, as many others have noted, the line some people draw between life expectancies and quality of medical care, especially hospital care, is less than linear.
[Updated to delete details that I decided were unnecessary for the post]