An Overview of a Sick Health Care System
By Brian L. Grant, MD
This very detailed, long, and comprehensive report from Time states the obvious to many who have paid attention to the debacle of our health care system.
It is long, but the best summary I have seen making the case for a need to revamp and disrupt the U.S. health care system. The article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” details how:
“In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.”
A response to the article in Slate criticizes the article on giving doctors and their pay a pass.
Obviously this hits close to home for this writer and many readers of MCNTalk. It actually hits home for every American.
It will enlighten and disturb most. Readers may even learn a new word: Chargemaster. Learn what this means and why it is important to you.
What is clear is that virtually every interest group invested in health care stands to lose a lot if the system truly rationalizes itself structurally and functionally in a way that addresses the major dysfunctions in the current U.S. system.
If the 18+ GDP being currently spent in the U.S. were to decrease to a level consistent with other industrialized countries, that means the spend will be less and the income of impacted stakeholders in our present system may decrease.
This article ought to make readers angry and concerned, enough to do their own analyses rather than accept the rhetoric designed to polarize. Simply put, our health care system is indefensively abusive to society.
Any system that charges those who can least afford to pay, the uninsured, many times that charged to Medicare patients and double that paid by private insurers, is wrong.
Any system that costs us as a society one out of five dollars – twice what other countries with systems equal in quality to ours – when it comes to major measures of health is wrong. Any system that abuses its nonprofit status, holds charity balls to cover the 1% or so that it may give away, while ending up with 12% or more of untaxed profits, paying its key executives in the many millions each – is wrong!
The article says little about the unnecessary nature of much of the care received by patients and the excesses in care with respect to labs, medications, therapies and other interventions. There are no health care bills when one does not receive care that is not needed or when one is healthy in the first place. And preventative care should be evidence based, not automatic.
This writer is in the medical business, as a physician, patient, employer, and in a role with a business that every day analyzes and reviews care received or proposed. I know a train wreck in process when I see it.
The political divisiveness and partisanship that surrounds the health care debacle is not accidental. It is carefully calculated and brilliantly executed by political operatives on behalf of those who stand to lose.
How fascinating that many of those who suffer the most in the current system, most revile the president and party who have proposed solutions that might mean a few less folks would need to declare bankruptcy from their medical bills.
At some point in the relatively near future, change will be forced by political will and those who have been tricked into opposing change will see the errors of their ways. Those businesses who are footing ever increasing bills for private insurance will also decide that they are fed up.
Changes will be fought hard, with desperate claims to maintain the status quo. It is in the interest of those most impacted to be part of solution rather than have it be imposed on them.
In the interim, pray that you, your friends, and loved ones never show up at a hospital with none or inadequate insurance. And welcome the day you are eligible for Medicare.
We invite readers’ responses to this article. We would especially like to hear counterpoints to the main points raised in the article.