REAL HEALTH CARE(C)
C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.
Just after I sent THIRD PARTY RAPE REVISITED, I read THE HEALING OF AMERICA by T.R.Reid, Penguin Press, N.Y. 2009, ($25.95)
Reid presents the most sanguine view of the American fallacy of Disease Care. Providing himself as a patient with a chronically painful and restricted shoulder, he visited medical facilities around the world. Interestingly the American orthopedist was the only one who offered, as the only option, a replacement of the shoulder! And the best result came from Ayurvedic treatment in India, twice daily massage, herbs, etc.
More importantly, Reid shows unequivocally that the ridiculous 17% of GNP spent in the U.S. provides far more dangerous and inadequate treatment than any other country in the world. Remember that our Medical System is the third leading cause of death!!! (JAMA, July, 2000). There are problems in all systems but those in the U.S. can be summarized in one word—GREED on the part of the insurance mafia, hospitals, lawyers, etc! And the U.S. has the highest failure in Avoidable Deaths! Another place where we excel at failure is in infant mortality rates–6.8 per 1000 births versus 2.4 in Sweden. Reid does not address clearly whether this is exclusively the result of lack of prenatal care or the higher incidence here of teen pregnancy, etc. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS CLEAR “THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY DEVELOPED COUNTRY THAT RELIES ON PROFIT-MAKING HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES TO PAY FOR ESSENTIAL AND ELECTIVE CARE.”
TWENTY PERCENT of all our medical expenses go to “administrative costs” and at least 15% of total cost is just plain profit! If a true non-profit insurance system were in place it would reduce costs by 15%. U.S. insurance companies deny 30% of all claims adding tremendously to the overhead at hospitals and in physician offices!! The extreme fragmentation with a vast array of payers who pay grudgingly is another big problem. If our administrative costs were down to the Canadian level, that alone would provide medical care to all the uninsured. The area of malpractice costs is also higher in this country than in the rest of the world combined!!!
Every aspect of medical care in the U.S is much more expensive—drugs, MRI’s, hospitalization, physician overhead, etc. And we are far from the healthiest nation. Basically we have essentially no HEALTH MAINTENANCE or PROMOTION. The bottom line is that we cannot expect improvement in health or reduction in costs of essential medical care unless we shift to a totally NON-PROFIT Insurance system! We do not need a government plan; we need a non-greed one!