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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-16-07 08:17 PM
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An F In Health Care (from
An F In Health Care
Alec Dubro
May 16, 2007

Alec Dubro is senior editor at

The New York-based Commonwealth Fund released a comprehensive cross-border study of health care systems in rich countries and, no surprise, ranks the U.S. as pretty much last. Except when it comes to cost, that is. We pay more overall and get less.

What everyone who cares to look knows is that there are two health care systems in Americaone for those with money and for those without. The report spelled it out plainly:

The U.S. ranks a clear last on all measures of equity. Americans with below-average incomes were much more likely than their counterparts in other countries to report not visiting a physician when sick, not getting a recommended test, treatment or follow-up care, not filling a prescription or not seeing a dentist when needed because of costs.

Many people have enough money, or otherwise identify themselves with money, that theyre grateful for what they believe is class-A health care. Thank god, they say, were not plagued with bureaucratic stasis and long wait times as are people at public hospitals or in socialist countries like Britain or Germany. Theyre wrong. Were at the bottom in most everything and for everybody.

The Commonwealth Fund does, indeed, say that the poor are in bad shape when it comes to preventable illnesses and chronic conditions. But, even the insured do badly. For instance:

The U.S. and Canada rank lowest on the prompt accessibility of appointments with physicians, with patients more likely to report waiting six or more days for an appointment when needing care.

On the other hand, Canada achieves approximately the same level of waiting using less than half the amount of money as the U.S. What is even more striking is that American medicine, despite the huge amounts of money poured into it, is so poorly organized that much of what would be good care gets negated by the haphazard system. Specifically, the U.S. is technologically behind and organizationally backward. Said the report:

Other countries are further along than the U.S. in using information technology and a team approach to manage chronic conditions and coordinate care. Information systems in countries like Germany, New Zealand and the U.K. enhance the ability of physicians to identify and monitor patients with chronic conditions. Such systems also make it easy for physicians to print out medication lists, including those prescribed by other physicians.

In short, as you have probably experienced, your primary care physician has no idea what your specialists are doing and vice versa. Not only are patient records not mutually accessible among medical personnel, theyre not even computerized. Thats right, a majority of U.S. health care providers still rely on written records. According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, 30 percent of current health care spending (up to $300 billion) each year nationwide is inappropriate, redundant or unnecessary. One result, said the U.S. Institute of Medicine, is that up to 98,000 people in the United States die every year from medical errors. The governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle, found it necessary to institute a program of paying $10 million for a grant and loan program to increase the use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems. So, what we already pay for health care isnt enough; the public sector has to pay to bring us even with the other rich countries. ......(more)

The complete piece is at:

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Systematic Chaos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-16-07 08:26 PM
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1. If you read even one sentence of this, and agreed with it...
...give it a K&R!

I sure as hell did.
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