Beware Health Care System Rankings

Advocates of more government involvement in health care often rely on a World Health Organization (WHO) report to make their case. They point to dubious claims that the performance of health care systems in countries like Canada and France rank much higher than the U.S. system.

Now, the Cato Institute has published a critique of the WHO report and finds it flawed in a number of ways.

Here are two key findings from Cato’s paper, WHO’s Fooling Who?:

“To use the existing WHO rankings to justify more government involvement in health care is to engage in circular reasoning because the rankings are designed in a manner that favors greater government involvement.”

“Media reports”¦neglect to mention the margins of error”¦an 80-percent uncertainty interval for each country.” “”¦the U.S. rank could range anywhere from 7 to 24″¦France could range from 3 to 11 and Canada from 4 to 14.”

Read the Executive Summary, or the entire 12-page Cato paper to learn why you shouldn’t believe everything the World Health Organization tells you.

WHO’s Fooling Who?

The World Health Organization’s Problematic
Ranking of Health Care Systems

by Glen Whitman
February 28, 2008

Executive Summary

The full 12-page paper:
WHO’s Fooling Who?

Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.