Immense Cost of Healthcare in the US
by the mysterious Aleah
first run, Saturday, June 10, 2017.
What is really wrong with U.S. Health-care? Aleah lays it on the line.
Our health-care system has a fundamental flaw: It’s far too costly. Americans spend $3.3 trillion a year on healthcare, which is 50 percent to 100 percent higher per capita than in other developed nations. For our money, we get some of the world’s most sophisticated treatment of cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
However, a new Commonwealth Fund report released early last year underscored that point — yet again — with an analysis that ranks 13 high-income nations on their overall health spending, use of medical and healthcare services, prices and medical outcomes.
The study statistics, which is from 2013, predates the full implementation of Obamacare, which took place in 2014. Obamacare was primarily designed to increase general health coverage for Americans and stem the continuous rise in health-care costs.G
The study indicates that despite spending well in excess of the rate of any other of those countries in 2014, the United States achieved worse outcomes when it comes to rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality.
That level of health spending relative to GDP is about 50 percent more than any of the countries studied for the report, which are Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The Commonwealth Fund said that in the U.S., the life expectancy in 2014 was an average of 78.8 years. By contrast, in Switzerland, which had the second-highest health spending per capita at $6,325, life expectancy was more than four years higher, at 82.9 years.
But overall, U.S. health care is relatively mediocre, producing shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality, and worse health overall than the systems in such countries as the U.K., Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and Sweden. Ryan-care won’t fix a broken system; Obama Care didn’t, either.
Both were conceived as patches on an absurdly complex Rube Goldberg machine assembled over 75 years of haphazard decisions. Studies have found that 34 percent of the immense cost of our system is simply wasted, with no benefit to patients.
Is health care a commodity like any other, which you can either afford or cannot? Or is it like education, electricity, or police and fire protection — basic necessities that government should ensure that everyone gets? We can’t decide. Our system is a clunky, free-market/socialist hybrid that ties coverage to employment, age, and income, with tens of millions of people falling through the gaps.
Meanwhile, doctors, hospitals, insurers, drug companies, medical device makers, and malpractice lawyers strive to make as much money as possible tending to the sick. The average hip replacement in the U.S. costs $40,364; in Spain, $7,731. In the U.S., an angiogram is $914; in Canada, it’s $35. Lipitor costs $124 per month here and $6 in New Zealand. This is the elephant in the room.
To address it, and to make health care truly available to all, would require radical change. But too many people and companies have a vested interest in a health-care system that’s the most expensive and inefficient in the civilized world. So that is what we’ll continue to have, no matter whose name precedes “care.”