Thursday, January 14, 2010

The economic catastrophe of for-profit medicine

The reason medical reform in USA is essential is simple--we simply cannot afford the system we have.  It bankrupts individuals, corporations, and governments.
The Economic Collapse of the United States and Health care reform
by paradocs2
Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:03:34 PM CST
Even though legislation has not yet been passed by Congress, its limited possible reform outlines are very visible. Real health reform will not happen. The loss of this moment, so full of the possibilities of real change, is due to the capture of all three branches of government by our country's financial institutions - the health insurance companies among them. Movement toward improving our country's health services and expanding social justice will not occur without comprehending how the USA has been torn asunder by the Chicago School of Free Market Economics and its off spring, the current economic depression.
Any doctor with a brain and a heart who practices medicine these days observes the many disastrous shortcomings of our medical system. There are sick people who have no insurance; there are worried people who will not undergo evaluations because something might be found which they cannot afford to take care of or which will prevent them from getting insurance in the future; there are sick insured patients who are only covered for three doctor visits a year, or $500 of medicines a year, or who cannot afford their $1000 deductible for a cholecystectomy, or their $5000 deductible before any insurance coverage at all, or their $40 office visit copay. In our offices there are the expenses of billing thirty different insurance companies; there is the daily time and effort needed to obtain prior authorizations for a test, a pharmaceutical, or a referral. Outside our offices there are emergency rooms on by-pass, a shortage of public health nurses to see our pregnant patients; pharmaceuticals whose monthly cost strains the family budget; waits of weeks and months to see a family doctor; shortages of common and needed medicines – flu vaccines, acyclovir, cipro; pharmaceutical companies that are so into profits that they no longer can be called "ethical" and their published studies in professional journals cannot be trusted; millions of uninsured people who show up only late – often too late - in their disease; and national health outcomes statistics that are tragically embarrassing.
Meanwhile on the macroscopic level, the cost of health insurance has gone up 100% in the past ten years, while wages have gone up only 20%. We spend about $8000 per person per year on health services involving 18% of our GDP. This is 20 to 40% more than other first world countries – and we have worse out comes. There are the embarrassing statistics on personal bankruptcies, showing that 62% are due to ill health or medical expenses. Since 1990 the number of administrators in the health sector has gone up 2000% while the number of doctors has increased less than 100%. It is easy to observe that there is something wrong here. more

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