I do not live in USA and therefore should not be interested in the Health Care reform debate raging there. But it is a subject I cannot stop posting about. Why?
In my view USA’s health care system is the worst example of high cost-low coverage health care system in the Developed World. Most of the developing countries like my own, India are following USA’s example.
In spite of the amount spent on health care in the US, according to a 2008 report, the United States ranks last in the quality of health care among developed countries. The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the US health care system 37th in overall performance and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study). The US pays twice as much yet lags other wealthy nations in such measures as infant mortality and life expectancy, which are among the most widely collected, hence useful, international comparative statistics. The USA’s life expectancy is 38th in the world, after most rich nations, and just after Chile (35th) and Cuba (37th).
According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the “only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage” (i.e. some kind of insurance).
In 2007, the U.S. spent $2.26 trillion on health care, or $7,439 per person, up from $2.1 trillion, or $7,026 per capita, the previous year. Spending in 2006 represented 16% of GDP, an increase of 6.7% over 2004 spending. Growth in spending is projected to average 6.7% annually over the period 2007 through 2017. Health insurance costs are rising faster than wages or inflation, and medical causes were cited by about half of bankruptcy filers in the United States in 2001.
If Obama succeeds in radically reforming the Health Care in USA during his term, I am sure that it will have wide range of positive effects World over.
How doctors in USA view Obama’s health care reforms?
American Medical Association [AMA], the largest organization of doctors used to oppose Government involvement in health care. They had opposed the failed Clinton plan of 1990s. But in a surprising turn around the AMA has voiced its broad support to the health reform bill now under consideration of the Congress.
Separating myth from fact about health care reform
The right wing politicians who are hand in glove with Health Care Industry [which includes the Pharma Companies and Insurance Companies] are opposing the Health care reforms propagating lot of lies and myths about the reforms. Here is what American Diabetes Association says about the myths.
MYTH: Health care reform will lead to negative changes in diabetes/health coverage and care.
FACT: Health care reform will protect people with diabetes by requiring all health insurance companies to accept all applicants for health coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. Under health care reform, if you are happy with your current health care team and wish to keep your health insurance plan, you can do so. Otherwise, you can purchase health insurance in the individual market without fear of being denied coverage due to your diabetes.
MYTH: Health care reform aims to ration access to health care, including diabetes services and supplies and care for Medicare seniors.
FACT: Health care reform will not lead to rationing access to health care including diabetes services and supplies. Currently the U.S. spends the largest amount (and highest percentage of GDP) on health care in the world, yet we have some of the worst health outcomes. Health care reform does not aim to cut health care costs by rationing care, rather health care reform focuses on ensuring that the money we do spend on health care goes to high quality and appropriate care. Health care reform attempts to redirect spending to high quality care and reducing unnecessary, poor quality expensive sick care.
Health care reform will protect Medicare patients’ access to their health care providers and reduce the costs of preventive care to help seniors live healthy lives. Health care reform will not cut Medicare benefits, reduce access to Medicare services or give the government the power to make treatment decisions for anyone regardless of age.
MYTH: Health care reform will lead to government-run health care and enable the government to decide which treatments people with diabetes receive.
FACT: Under health care reform, neither the government nor a government committee will be responsible for determining which health care treatments people receive from their health care providers. Decisions on how to treat and manage one’s diabetes will still be made by the person with diabetes and his/her health care providers. Under health care reform, the government will work to ensure that information about the quality and effectiveness of treatment and care options are readily available and properly disseminated to health care providers and patients.
MYTH: Health care reform will make health insurance more expensive, especially for people with diabetes.
FACT: By prohibiting the current health insurance practice of charging higher premiums to people with diabetes and other health conditions, health care reform will actually help make health insurance more affordable for people with diabetes. Health insurers will no longer be able to charge individuals higher premiums based on health status, race or gender; nor would they be able to target people with illnesses or their employers for premium increases based on health status. Health care reform will also limit annual out-of-pocket costs for covered benefits, with currently proposed limits of to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family.
MYTH: Health care reform won’t benefit people like me who already have health insurance.
FACT: Health care reform will reduce swelling health care costs for all Americans, improve the quality of care all patients [particularly people with diabetes] receive by rewarding better care, prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, limit the out-of-pocket spending on health care for individuals and families so that they do not go bankrupt trying to pay for necessary medical care, and provide consumers with more choice in health insurance coverage.
Read more about the issues involved here.
Physicians for a National Health Program is a non-profit research and education organization of 17,000 physicians, medical students and health professionals of USA who support single-payer national health insurance. Read here the online petition to President Obama they are circulating among fellow physicians endorsing more radical health reform.