Friday, October 24th, 2014

Singer is pretty much right that U.S. ranks 37th

In a music video, Paul Hipp says the U.S. ranks 37th in the world in health care.

With biting sarcasm, singer Paul Hipp says the United States should be proud of its global ranking on health care.

"We're No. 37!" he sings in a YouTube video released Sept. 9, 2009. 

With some electric guitar riffs and topical references to the summer's vitriolic debate over health care reform — including Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" heckle of President Barack Obama — the satiric romp "celebrates" the United States' standing:

We're No. 37
We're the U.S.A.
We're No. 37
And we're so proud to say
We got old people crying at the pharmacy
Pay your deductible
This ain't the land of the f-f-f-free Grandma
We're No. 37
We're the U.S.A.


The number refers to the World Health Organization's ranking of the United States as the 37th best health care system in the world, out of 191 countries. In a cheeky countdown, the video shows viewers a cross-section of nations that ranked better than the United States in WHO's tally — a mix of industrialized nations in Western Europe, Scandinavia and Asia; wealthy oil producers from the Middle East; tiny realms of prosperity such as Monaco and Luxembourg; and some seemingly unlikely nations such as Colombia, Cyprus, Morocco, Dominica and Costa Rica.

It's an anthem for health care reform that even shows its sources: Hipp includes a shot of himself looking at WHO's report. So he wins points for transparency in sourcing.

But as hummable as the song is, we thought it deserved a bit of scrutiny. How did WHO arrive at the numbers? And how widely accepted is the health organization's methodology? Ultimately, did Hipp choose a good benchmark on which to base his song? We found his claim was Mostly True .