Life expectancy and the health care debate

Matthew Yglesias today rebuts this statistic about life expectancy in the Netherlands versus the United States:

At birth, someone living in the Netherlands can expect to live 2.35 years longer than someone born in the US, but at age 65, the difference is reversed, and someone living in the US can expect to live 0.4 years longer than someone living in the Netherlands. This difference can be explained by assuming that semi-socialized health care is better for young and worse for old people, or, at least as likely, different policies are not the main cause of the difference. [emphasis original]

Yglesias writes that:

But insofar as we want to examine the health care issue, both sides of this factoid support socialism. Dutch people of all ages enjoy a quasi-socialized system of health insurance provision (by European standards, there’s a lot of private sector involvement in Dutch health care). Americans under the age of 65 participate in an overwhelmingly private sector health insurance market. But Americans over the age of 65 participate in a Canadian-style national health insurance scheme known as Medicare. The data, if we want to take it seriously, indicates that the Dutch system is better than private sector medicine but worse than Medicare and tends to support a “Medicare for all” approach.

This reminds me of the interview that John Stewart did with Bill Kristol in which he gets Kristol to admit the supremacy of the government-run military health care system.

It just seems so blatantly hypocritical for people to extol the virtues of Medicare and military health insurance and yet condone a public option for health care. Despite this we’re still having to rely upon people like Yglesias and Stewart to point out this hypocrisy. This should be what the Democrats do if they really want this plan to pass.