Life, Liberty, and Happiness: It all starts with health and healthcare.Pill bottle with paper money inside and coins at its base


  • The US spends half again as much as other countries on healthcare, but the care we receive isn’t the best. It’s not top ten . . . not even close.
  • Healthcare should be about healthy people first, not healthy profits.
  • It’s past time to demand our money’s worth.

37. The United States does not have the best health care in the world . . . Just the most expensive.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the quality of US healthcare is not in the top ten. Or the top twenty. We’re not even close to being in the top thirty. We are number 37. I am not OK with that, and I am tired of politicians who pretend insurance companies or Obamacare are the reason why America’s healthcare is a such a bad deal.

The real reason has to do with laws and regulations that favor profits over patients and ignore what other countries have done to keep their quality of healthcare high while keeping their costs low. By adopting what is already working in other countries we can provide top-ten healthcare to every American of every age for about what we spend on Medicare for citizens 65 and older.

Fixing what ails us will not be simple, but it is well past time to address the problem. American lives, America’s promise of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, depend on it.

Where to start:

  • Other countries negotiate for a good deal on prescription drug prices. That’s why a pair of epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens®) cost $600 in the USA but just $100 in Canada. Let’s keep the $500 difference in our pockets instead of the pockets of big drug companies.
  • It is time to cut the red tape. Before healthcare “reforms” from the first years of the G.W. Bush administration, a visit to the hospital would generate just one invoice, just like a visit to your dentist or auto mechanic. Today a single hospital visit creates many invoices, one for practically every doctor that sees you, lab test, and x-ray.The Bush Administration said this “a-la-carte” invoicing would save us money. News flash: It didn’t. It added overhead, created paperwork and pricing headaches for consumers, and made medical billing fraud easier. It is time to make things simple again, put everything on one invoice, just like your dentist and auto mechanic do. The way to keep prices low is negotiate provider pricing, just like insurance companies do, and make sure Americans are getting a fair deal no matter who foots the bill.
  • We need to eliminate “pay-to-play” generic drug manufacturing policies and use 21st century scientific methods to make sure generic drugs are safe, available, and affordable.
  • There is no good reason why a titanium screw used in the repair of a broken bone costs less than $100 in other countries but over $1000 in the United States. We should change our medical device patent laws so manufacturers can’t make small, unimportant changes to their designs and automatically extend the life of their medical device patents.

These measures will bring the cost of healthcare down no matter who pays for it: Medicare, single-payer, private health insurance, or individual citizens.



Footnotes:

Murray, Christopher J.l., and Julio Frenk. “Ranking 37th — Measuring the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System.” New England Journal of Medicine 362, no. 2 (2010): 98-99. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0910064#t=article

Photo Credit: Melissa Balkon: http://www.freeimagescom/photo/money-pharmacy-1538319