Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Health Care Reform

The argument has been made that the US “has the best health care system in the world” therefore we shouldn’t change it because that would lead to lower quality health care. That claim is supported by the anecdote that people come to the US for health care they couldn’t get in their own country.  While it may be true that some people, those who are wealthy enough to afford it, do come here for treatment and it may also be true (no one has offered objective evidence) that we have the most technologically advanced medical establishment, there is more to a health care “system” than technology. Equally important is access and delivery. It is inadequacies in those aspects of the system which the administration is trying to address.  If you aren’t wealthy, if your health insurance refuses to pay for it or you have no insurance, it might as well not exist.

The fact is that despite having what may well be the most technologically advanced system, the US’s health outcomes are at the bottom of the barrel as compared to other industrialized countries. Compared to the 19 most advanced nations the US is dead last (pun intended) in deaths that could have been prevented by “timely and effective health care” according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. Forty one countries have longer life expectancies. Among the G7 nations we are at the bottom. According to Wikipedia there are 32 countries that have lower infant mortality rates than the US. Those abysmal statistics are a reflection of the failures of the access and delivery part of our health care system.

To make matters worse we are paying twice as much per capita than those countries that have better outcomes. To add insult to injury, the cost is going up at 2, 3 or more times the rate of inflation every year. We need to reform the delivery part of the system now. Not step by step over time, but now. If we allow the insurance system to remain as it is the rise in cost over the next ten years will make the administration’s reform proposal look like an after Christmas sale price and we’ll still be at the bottom of those lists because millions will still not have insurance and insurance companies will still be denying treatment. Write or call your senators and representatives and tell them not to listen to the nay sayer's and the lobbyists. Vote for change. Vote for the people they represent, not the insurance industry.

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