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How to Fix Health Care in America
Where Does the Money Go?

  1. What Is a Good Health Care Plan?
  2. How Much Does Health Care Cost?
  3. Why Is Health Care So Expensive?
  4. Health Care in America is a Profitable Business
  5. What Needs Fixing in the Health Care System
  6. How to Fix Health Care in America

how to fix health care in america What Is a Good Health Care Plan?

What is a good health care plan? A health care plan is good when it improves our health, it is accessible to everyone and it is affordable. American health care is not the best in the world. It is far from the best. The World Health Organization rated the United States only thirty-seventh in health outcomes, on a par with Serbia. Compared to other developed countries of the world, we die sooner, we are not as healthy, and we have more infant mortality and chronic disease. And yet, despite this poor report card, the United States spends more per person on health care than any other nation in the world. But we are not getting results from the money we spend.

Americans feel they have the right to good health care, but health care is a disaster in this country. How bad is health in the United States? The incidence of cancer is rising. Eight percent of Americans have diabetes. One in five Americans has arthritis. Americans die from bronchitis, asthma and emphysema more often than people in six other major countries. Obesity, which is the indicator of future health problems, is a plague.

how to fix health care in america How Much Does Health Care Cost?

The cost of health care includes money paid for health insurance, prescription drugs, hospitals, physicians, and high-technology tests and machines. The average prescription costs $70. A hospital room costs up to $1,700 per day. The cost of routine childbirth in a hospital is $8,000. Every year health care costs add up to a sixth of the gross national product. Today, however, medical insurance for a family of four costs more than $10,000 a year. That is what a full-time worker making minimum wage earns in a year.

how to fix health care in america Why Is Health Care So Expensive?
Where Does the Money Go?

Why is health care so expensive? The cost of medical care is growing fast. And the costs of medical insurance plans are out of control. Did you know that most people did not have any health insurance before 1960?

Today most people get their health care plan through their employer. The employer bears a large portion of the cost of health care. Except for the copay, people don't pay their medical bills out of their own pocket. People with medical insurance coverage feel that as long as they can afford the copay, it seems like medical care is almost free. The patients with medical insurance coverage don't need to know how much the procedure costs. Because they don't pay for it directly, they demand only the best. People have no incentive to negotiate down their medical costs. Patients are also reluctant to dicker on prices when they need a cure or immediate relief from pain. Finally, health care is so expensive because patients use medical treatment as a panacea for their bad lifestyle choices.

how to fix health care in america Health Care in America is a Profitable Business

So we ask, why is health care so expensive? The present medical system is based entirely on profit. The medical system includes hospitals operated for profit, drug companies, medical technologies, medical insurance companies. The goal of making a profit interferes with good medical care and makes it more expensive. The United States is the only country in the world without a national system of health care.

Who profits from the American health care system? The profit incentive affects all areas of medical care. Health care is big business. Pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and HMOs determine what kind of medical care we get and how much it is going to cost.
  1. Big pharmaceutical companies are very profitable businesses. Their biggest expense is advertising and marketing, not research and development. Drug companies are allowed to advertise their pills directly to the consumers, who are not qualified to evaluate them. Advertising encourages you to try a new drug as if it were bubble gum. Almost no other country in the world permits drug advertising.
  2. Medical research is paid for by drug companies and device companies to prove-in their newest products. The almighty dollar buys a lot of junk research.
  3. Medical education focuses on prescribing drugs for every patient. And the system encourages doctors to over-prescribe drugs. As one doctor said to a patient, "If you don't want a prescription, why did you come here?"
  4. Because of the profit motive at health insurance companies, health insurance coverage is routinely denied to many people because they have a preexisting condition. In addition, people with health insurance are unjustly denied treatments on the ground that they are unnecessary or experimental.
  5. Powerful new medical technology has not reduced medical costs, because it is overused and misused.
  6. Doctors who depend on drug companies for information about new drugs are misinformed and under-informed.
  7. The cost of malpractice insurance for every doctor adds to the cost of medical care. For many doctors, malpractice insurance is their biggest expense. Doctors order unnecessary diagnostic tests and scans to protect themselves from the threat of malpractice.

how to fix health care in america What Needs Fixing in the Health Care System

  1. The cost of medical care is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy.
  2. Doctors who become specialists make 5 times the annual income of family physicians. Thus we have a glut of specialists and a scarcity of family physicians and general practitioners.
  3. General practitioners and nurses are in short supply.
  4. Patients are dissatisfied with their medical care.
  5. Doctors are unhappy in their profession because HMOs and insurance companies dictate what treatments to use and how much time to spend for a patient office visit.
  6. Every doctor's office has an employee whose full-time job is to file paperwork with insurance companies and the government and to try to collect payment from them.
  7. A large number of people cannot get medical insurance coverage. Either the insurance plans will not accept them or or they cannot afford the cost of the plan.
  8. The health care system neglects preventive medicine, and rewards disease management.
  9. Because the employer bears the major cost of health care insurance, the products and business services are more expensive and less competitive in the global marketplace.
  10. Employees cannot change jobs, because they cannot qualify for a new medical insurance plan.
  11. Unemployed workers have no health insurance coverage, and cannot afford the cost of Cobra or individual health plans.

how to fix health care in america How to Fix Health Care in America

Most people feel that we fix the health care crisis in America if more people can afford health care insurance and more can qualify for health care insurance. In the short run, health care reform will relieve some of these problems. But the solution demands more than this.

In the long run, what will fix health care in America and save the medical system is new paradigm and a new mindset. Physicians know that a lot of disease and chronic illness can be prevented. But the medical system is focused on managing disease rather than preventing it. We need medical professionals trained to emphasize preventive medicine and healthy lifestyles as the best way to good health. We need education that teaches people how to care for their health and motivates them to choose a healthy lifestyle. It starts with a healthy diet, exercise, stress management and lifestyle choices. We need to learn that health is our personal responsibility. We should learn how to protect and improve our health with good choices every day, choices to eat healthy, avoid smoking, and become physically fit. People forget that they can do more for their health than the entire medical system can do. Preventing disease is in their own hands. Health is a personal responsibility.

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