Our health care system is so broken

I’ve been talking about how I’ve been pretty sick over the past couple of days and it really got me thinking about our health care system. I’m in one of these positions right now where I know I “should” go to the doctor, but I don’t want to because it’s more miserable than how sick I feel right now.

If I go to the doctor I know I can get some medicine that will make me feel better and help me recover faster. However, that requires going to the doctors office, filling out god knows how many forms, waiting for at least an hour in one room, 30+ minutes in another room, only to see the doctor for less than 3 minutes of very impersonal care. Not to mention the cost of seeing the doctor plus the cost of the prescriptions they write me too. All told I’d be looking at a minimum of a $200-$250 bill.

While taking a friend to the airport the other day I was having a conversation about a procedure he needs to have done. He suffers from chronic tinnitus, a condition where you have continuous ringing in your ears. He’s in his mid 20’s and in otherwise perfect health, but this condition is debilitating at times. He’s seen several doctors about this and no one can seem to figure out exactly what’s causing it or how to get rid of it. Now they are recommending getting an MRI on his head which is a very expensive procedure. The sick part is he is faced with a tough decision he shouldn’t have to even be pondering. He’s actually contemplating waiting to get the procedure done early next year instead of right now because he wants the expense to fall into next year for deductible reasons. The conversation I had with him and my own illness right now got me motivated to do some research.

The following are facts. I’m not making this stuff up or stating my opinion.

– The United States ranks 37th in the world among other industrialized notations in regards to health care. This ranks us just behind Costa Rica, a place where I used to live. I can vouch that it’s NOT a first world country.

– The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world. Almost twice as expensive as the second ranked country (Switzerland).

– The average American spends a total of about 30 minutes per year with a primary care physician.

– The United States is the only developed country in the world besides South Africa that does not provide health care to all its citizens.

– The United States ranks 26th in the world in infant mortality.

– The United States ranks 24th in the world in the number of healthy years a person can expect to live. This puts us in the company of Cuba and Slovenia.

– The United States ranks 2nd in the world, only behind Italy as the most dissatisfied with their health care.

– Health insurance companies in the United States are in the business of making money, not providing the best possible care.

– Private hospitals in the United States are in the business of making money, not providing the best possible care.

Now for my opinion:

For those of you who know me, you know that in most circumstances I’m in favor of smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes. I don’t have any issues paying taxes, none at all actually. I do have an issue paying higher taxes because of wasteful spending and overspending. It makes me sick that so much of our national budget goes just to paying interest on our debt. As someone who has no debt (with the exception of mortgages), it drives me nuts having to pay interest indirectly by paying higher taxes. Basically I’m paying for other people’s bad decisions. Anyway, while I’m in favor of smaller, leaner, more efficient government, I’m not in favor of no government at all. Government needs to provide our citizens with schools, fire protection, police protection, military (but not unnecessary wars), roads / transportation systems, parks and recreation, etc. I also feel that the government should be directly involved in providing health care. It seems like the only situation where the individual’s best interests can be addressed in most circumstances, something we’re far from now. It’s also been proven that a government health care system can and does work. As I mentioned in my fact finding mission above, every other industrialized nation in the world does this (with the exception of South Africa).

The real problem is that things will not change, at least not anytime soon. Wherever there is money to be made in this county, there are lobbyists. Wherever there is a lot of money to be made, there are A LOT of lobbyists. That is how the country works. It’s better for us to get off oil, but the oil lobby prevents that from ever happening. It’s a sin what our food and diet policy is in the country, but the food and beverage lobby keeps that from ever changing. It’s sick how complicated our tax code is, but the accounting lobby prevents that from changing. It’s ridiculous how the legal system works in the country, but the legal lobby prevents it from changing.

1 Comment

  1. US is driven by prices. There is no secret conspiracy to keep oil going. The fact of the matter is that oil is cheaper than milk. Heck, oil is cheaper than Dasani water. There is no cheaper alternative. People are trying, but there is nothing cheaper than oil.

    Check out Frontline’s Sick Around the World for a comparison of 5 counties that have drastically different systems than ours and how they are doing financially and quality-wise… (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/) It’s a complicated issue with no clear solutions.


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