Friday, June 9, 2017

Some articles on the state of healthcare in the US...

One article I read for Deal Me In - "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us" by Steven Brill - is a depressing look at medical costs in the US. Although it was written before the ACA (Affordable Care Act) really went into effect, the problems are still prevalent in our messed up healthcare system. For instance, the article gives examples of the lack of transparency in hospital bills and their inexplicable charges, and how hospitals can charge patients multiple times for the same item (a pill, a pair of latex gloves, etc. etc.) at inflated prices.

And this article only gets at some of the issues that make our system unworkable in the long-run. One sign of a good article is that it motivates you to immediately look for others on the same topic, which is how I found this one, also worth reading.

Another critical part of the healthcare problem lies with our habits and choices, too little emphasis on prevention and an industry bent on getting us to live off of junk food (topic of a different essay). Plus, wages aren't keeping up with the costs of healthcare (and housing and education).

I don't know what to say about all of this. So I'm just dumping it here in a grim heap for you to pick through.


Brian Joseph said...

This is a really complicated issue. It is also changing so fast that I think that books become quickly outdated. Unfortunately, the situation may be getting a lot worse very soon. It almost seems that there are are people out there trying to make it worse.

Roderick Robinson said...

Theoretically if our politicians were brave enough to put up taxes to pay for it our National Health Service should be viable. Instead they whinge that people are living longer and this increases the burdens on the NHS. But we knew fifty years ago that there was an increasing trend towards longevity and did nothing.

NHS horror tales abound but the fact is every time I use the NHS (my advanced age ensures I do so more and more often) I'm treated as well I could ever have expected. For free.

In the US I had Blue Cross and Blue Shield which didn't quite cover the costs of our younger daughter's birth. From what I understand there's always a shortfall; I never understood why.

The doctor - our regular Pittsburgh doctor - brought our baby out for me to see at the hospital. I knew she'd been "difficult" and that forceps had been necessary. Quite casually I mentioned the bruising on her face. My doctor blanched as if I were about to launch into litigation there and then. It doesn't make for a good relationship and I was terribly sorry for his sake about the misunderstanding.

Moral for the US: Stay healthy and drop dead on exactly the day the life insurance actuaries have said you will. Any other option generates paperwork.

HKatz said...

@ Brian - We definitely have a problem of people looking at short-term fixes rather than taking a longer view, plus there's a lot of corruption among politicians and the people who pay them off.

@ Roderick - I know people just recently who have given birth in the US and, though lucky to have good insurance, still found themselves hit with some unexpected costs (though the insurance spared them from having to pay a lot of money). The problems with healthcare have a variety of sources that need to be addressed with foresight, compassion, good use of data... and we're lacking in leadership and reveling in ignorance and malice.