According to a recent report by the non-profit group “Commonwealth Fund” Americans get the poorest healthcare and pay the most when compared to four other rich countries.
“The U.S. health care system ranks last when compared with Germany, Great Britain, Australia and Canada on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity and outcomes,” the report says. “The United States is not getting value for the money that is spent on health care,” Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said. “It is pretty indisputable that we spend twice what other countries spend on average,” she added. Per capita health spending in the United States in 2004 was $6,102, more than twice that of Germany (which scored the highest among the countries evaluated).
The measures that were used to determine each country’s score included infant mortality, healthy lives at age 60, convenience of care, waiting times at emergency rooms, how long it takes to get in to see a doctor, and waiting time for non-emergency surgery. Other notable statistics to come from the report are that the United States had the fewest patients (84%) reporting that they have a regular doctor and that US doctors are the least “wired” with the lowest percentage using electronic medical records or receiving electronic updates on recommended treatments.
For those of us that have been in the medical field for years, little of this is surprising. Although I’m not sure I am a proponent of government sponsored health care, it is very interesting to note that of the five countries looked at, the U.S. is the only nation that does not provide universal health care for its citizens.
In the U.S. there are 45 million people without health insurance (according to U.S. government estimates from 2005). Prescription medications in the U.S. can cost 10 times or more for the same exact prescription medicine than in other countries. The inequality of these prices is clearly due to greed from the pharmaceutical industry and our (through the cost of insurance) willingness to pay these higher prices. No wonder people are resorting to buying their pharmaceuticals from Canada! And how does our government respond to its citizens being taken advantage of? They do everything they can to make it illegal to get prescription medicines from outside of our borders. Not that I believe in conspiracy theories, but that certainly does seem like government sponsored corporate piracy to me!!
So, what’s the answer to the problem that this study clearly demonstrates exists?
Take yourself out of the picture completely… take the responsibility for your own health care into your own hands. Begin to make the choices that are consistent to living a longer, healthier life… eat better, get exercise, rest properly, take time for yourself. And finally dispel the ridiculous notion that it is okay to die while taking a prescription medicine but not okay to die while not taking any medicines.