The August 19 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported on mortality from heart attack ( acute myocardial infarction, or AMI). The article compared statistics from 2006 with those from 1995. In a span of only eleven years, there has been a 17% reduction in the death rate within 30 days of AMI. These are nationwide figures. Furthermore, there has been a reduction in hospital-to-hospital mortality, as one can see in the above graph: the bell curve on the left, representing 2006 data, is narrower than on the right. This means that the benefits are across the board, trickling down to both genders and all races and ethnicities.
To be sure, the federal government deserves some of the credit, since (a) the data came from Medicare, and (b) Medicare and the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) were responsible, in part, for imposing certain standards on the hospital and medical community. Nevertheless, these findings do not represent a health care system in distress; and, although health care in this country is expensive, it appears that we are getting what we pay for.