Monday, January 04, 2010

Health Care

My ignorance on health care is pretty vast. It's an incredibly complex issue, but one thing just stands out above all others: that US spends way more than other countries (by pretty much any measure), and we're way behind everyone in terms of quality of life. Check this quote from wikipedia:
Currently the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than most of the world's industrialized nations.[nb 1][11] The USA's life expectancy lags 42nd in the world, after most rich nations, lagging last of the G5 (Japan, France, Germany, UK, USA) and just after Chile (35th) and Cuba (37th).[12][13][14] The USA's life expectancy is ranked 50th in the world after the European Union (40th).[15][16] The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).[17][18] A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries.[19]
Downright embarrassing.

Pretty much whomever you talk to thinks they have a good idea as to why the costs are so out of control. It's the doctors, or it's the insurance industry, or it's the greedy/lazy americans, it's the inefficiency of the system, etc. etc. etc.

Recently I listened to two This American Life stories on healthcare: "More Is Less" and "Someone Else's Money". Give them a listen, they're well worth it. The first episode covers reasons why each of the standard reasons for cost increases is true, and the second goes over the history of how we got to where we are today. Plus, the second one covers pet health insurance, and looks at it as a model that we might follow for people health insurance.

That last bit on the pet health insurance really convinced me. Now I believe the problem is the entire system. It has removed the consumers (people) from the actual cost of the health care, and that's just a recipe for disaster in a capitalist environment. That and the drug companies are to blame.

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