David Magnus– David Magnus, Phd, is the director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. The views expressed are his own. –

The public discussion of healthcare reform has been full of so many lies and myths that it is less a policy debate than bad theater.

Critics of reform (conservatives hoping to score political points and oppose Obama on anything; free market ideologues; those with threatened financial interests) have stooped to absurdity in their public pronouncements. One publication declared that severely disabled physicist Stephen Hawking would never get life saving medicine in a national health system, ignoring that Hawking is British—virtually all of his life saving treatments were done through their National Health Service.

As debate over reforming health care continues, these are some of the key myths that get in the way of truly meaningful discussion.

Myth #1—We have the best health care in the world

This is probably true for some Americans. But on the whole our system is among the poorest of all developed nations. We spend far more per capita than any of our peers on healthcare, yet health outcomes measures are no better in aggregate. The World Health Organization ranking of health systems rated 36 other countries as having better health systems despite spending far less. The U.S. was right behind Costa Rica (and only two spots ahead of Cuba).