USA’s troubled Health Care System


The Health Care System in the World’s richest Country,the United States of America is in a mess. The American health-care system, which costs about 16% of the country’s economic output, is by far the most expensive in the world. Even after spending so much money about 50 million people are un-insured and another 25 million are under-insured. Most West European Countries spend half the amount to provide universal Health coverage.

Is such costly health care in USA of high standard?

Comparisons with other rich countries show that America’s health-care system is not only growing at an unsustainable pace, but also provides questionable value for money and dubious medical care. It is characterised by uneven quality of care, inadequate coverage and soaring costs.

Barack Obama has promised far reaching health care reforms so that no US citizen will remain un-insured like this Type1 Diabetes Patient who is dependent on Insulin Pump. The Congress is drafting a new reform legislation but the Health Industry and the Insurance Industry are up in arms against the reforms.

Last month an Insurance Industry insider,Mr Wendell Potter who had quit his job in disgust at the way the Insurance Companies exploit patients, testified before a Congress Committee about how ‘the insurance companies confuse the customers and dump the sick so that they can satisfy the Wall Street investors.

Later he also described the reasons for quitting his highly paid job in the Insurance Industry to become a whistle-blower in a TV interview and also wrote about it in his blog.

Here are some excerpts:

While visiting my folks in northeast Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health “expedition” being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What intrigued me most was that a non-profit group whose original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.

I borrowed my dad’s car and drove up 50 miles up the road to Wise, Virginia. It was being held at a Wise County Fairground. I took my camera. I took some pictures. It was a very cloudy, misty day, it was raining that day, and I walked through the fairground gates. And I didn’t know what to expect. I just assumed that it would be, you know, like a health– booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the volunteers were treating patients.

But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases– and I’ve got some pictures of people being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.

And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia and Kentucky, Tennessee– all over the region, because they knew that this was being done. A lot of them heard about it from word of mouth.

That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do to hold back tears.

How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in the world were being treated this way?

A couple of weeks later I was boarding a corporate jet to fly from Philadelphia to a meeting in Connecticut. When the flight attendant served my lunch on gold-rimmed china and gave me a gold-plated knife and fork to eat it with, I realized for the first time that someone’s insurance premiums were paying for me to travel in such luxury. I also realized that one of the reasons those people in Wise County had to wait in long lines to be treated in animal stalls was because our Wall Street-driven health care system has created one of the most inequitable health care systems on the planet.

The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you’re heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.

It’s the way the American system has evolved, the political system,that the vested special interests, who are so profitable and so powerful, are able to influence public policy in the way that they have, and the way that they’ve done over the years. And the insurance industry has been one of the most successful, in beating back any kinds of legislation that would hinder or affect the profitability of the companies.

The industry doesn’t want to have any competitor. In fact, over the course of the last few years, has been shrinking the number of competitors through a lot of acquisitions and mergers. So first of all, they don’t want any more competition period. They certainly don’t want it from a government plan that might be operating more efficiently than they are, that they operate. The Medicare program that we have here is a government-run program that has administrative expenses that are like three percent or so compared to the industry’s twenty percent.

You know, I’ve been around a long time. And I have to say, I just don’t get this. I just don’t understand how the corporations can oppose a plan that gives the unhealthy people a chance to be covered. And they don’t want to do it themselves.

Let us hope that with the help of whistleblowers like Mr Potter, Barack Obama and the ‘Democratic’ Congress will be able to really reform the American Health Care System so that no one is denied high quality health care.

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