Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Health Care in America - Where Politicians Fear to Tread


The Broken American Health Care System

Do you notice something wrong with the following statistics?

Chldren 3-17 years of age ever diagnosed with ADHD: 5.2 million
Cildren now on prescription drugs to treat ADHD - 16 million

Adults with Type 2 diabetes in 2010: 25.8 million
Adults treated with Metformin HLC for diabetes: 48.3 million

Adults with chronic pain: 56 million
Adults prescribed Vicodin for chronic pain: 131.2 million

Adults with high cholesterol: 36 million
Adults prescribed Zocor for high cholesterol: 94.1 million

Adults with high blood pressure: 75 million
Adults prescribed Prinivil for high blood pressure: 87.4 million
Adults prescribed Norvasc for high blood pressure: 57.2 million
Adults prescribed Hydrodiuril for high blood pressure: 47.8 million
Adults prescribed just 3 drugs for high blood pressure: 192.4 million

We have a problem in America, a problem people and politicians do not want to hear or think about.  America spends more money than any other nation on health care, far more than most nations, yet we have a mediocre health care system.

Health care costs have been rising for several years.  Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980.

In 2008, U.S. health care spending was about $7,681 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Total health care expenditures grew at an annual rate of 4.4 percent in 2008, a slower rate than recent years, yet still outpacing inflation and the growth in national income.

The following chart shows how much we spend on health care.

We now spend about $2.6 trillion on health care.  The average cost of a family health insurance policy offered by employers was $13,375 this year, up 5% from 2008, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust survey found.

So where does this spending leave us in terms of the quality of our health care system compared to the rest of the world?

Here is the ranking:

Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

How about in terms of developed and undeveloped nations?

1.         France
2.         Italy
3.         San Marino
4.         Andorra
5.         Malta
6.         Singapore
7.         Spain
8.         Oman
9.         Austria
10.       Japan
11.        Norway
12.       Portugal
13.       Monaco
14.       Greece
15.       Iceland
16.       Luxemburg
17.       Netherlands
18.       United Kingdom
19.       Ireland
20.      Switzerland
21.       Belgium
22.      Columbia
23.       Sweden
24.       Cyprus
25.       Germany
26.       Saudi Arabia
27.       U.A.E.
28.      Israel
29.       Morocco
30.      Canada
31.       Finland
32.       Australia
33.       Chile
34.       Denmark
35.       Dominica
36.       Costa Rica
37.      United States

Astonishing!  Our quality of health care is not even as good as nations spending ten times less per capita as we do.  That is not a logical problem, or a cultural problem, it is a criminal problem that our profit driven health care industry and our corrupted political system perpetuate.

There are ways out of the mess.  They will not come from Washington, D.C. however.  Not when billions of dollars are being spent by the industry to protect what they own.

For the past three years and the next four years insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and other healthcare profiteers will spend billions in advertising and more billions in lobbying to convince us that we have the BEST healthcare system in the world.  The truth is far from that claim.

That is why I am starting a series of articles on the broken American Health Care system, and what it will take to give us the quality of health care we deserve for the money we spend on health care.


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