Health care system cracking; public in denial

NY Times has an interesting piece on the state of healthcare in the US. My take on the piece: corporations have been funding healthcare, but can’t afford it. Rather than join the call for single party payer health insurance, businesses are just squirming out of paying, and leaving hospitals and the employees holding the bag. For some reason, the public doesn’t complain about its $3000 deductible and the long waits to see doctors, even as it is increasingly true that they don’t see their “own” doctors.

…..the Commonwealth Fund released one of the most detailed studies ever done comparing care in the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Britain. We’ve known for awhile that health care here is more expensive than anywhere and that our life expectancy is somehow shorter. But the particulars were the surprise.

On the good side, the study found that once we get into a doctor’s office, American patients are as likely as patients anywhere to get the right care, especially for prevention. Only Germans have a shorter wait for surgery when it’s needed. And 85 percent of Americans are happy with the care they get.

But we also proved to be the least likely to have a regular doctor — and starkly less likely to have had the same doctor for five years. We have the hardest time finding care on nights or weekends outside of an E.R. And we are the most likely (after Canadians) to wait six days or more for an appointment when we need medical attention. Half of Americans also reported forgoing medical care because of cost in the last two years, twice the proportion elsewhere.

None of this news, however, did more than lift a few eyebrows. So this is the picture of American health care you get after watching for a few weeks: it’s full of holes, it’s slowly bankrupting us and we’re kind of used to it.

That leaves two possibilities: (1) We’ve given up on the country; or (2) we’re just waiting for someone else to be in charge.

Surgery, of course, is still a profitable racket; in the US there is no waiting for surgery, which sounds good; but in reality most of the surgery in the US is semi elective or elective, and a not so small amount is of the “not indicated but profitable” variety. Getting in “tomorrow” to get your tummy tucked or your bunions shaved is not exactly a valid indicator that our system is working properly. Meanwhile, health problems are the 2nd leading cause of bankruptcy in the US.

Health insurance has become a racket in this country. It generates enormous profits, while hospitals and non-surgical doctors are going broke; and a lot of that insurance profit is plowed back into D. C. lobbyists and media consultants who “insure” that the system will not change.


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