Health care costs are completely out of control. But how much is good health care worth to you? The U.S. spends over $8,000 per year per person. That figure is almost two and half times more than the most developed nations in the world. That includes relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Ona more global scale, it means the U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6% of GDP.
Quite a few Americans, including some leading politicians, say the cost is unfortunate, but the U.S. the best health care in the world. But what exactly is 17 cents out of every American dollar purchasing? According to the mist recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developement (OECD), an international global group compromised of 34 member nations, it is not as much as we may think.
We have fewer physicians per person than in most OECD countries. 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people, well below the OECD average of 3.1. The number of hospital beds in the U.S. was 2.6 per 1,000 people, lower than the OECD average of 3.4 beds. Life expectancy at birth increasedby almost 9 years between 1960-2010, Japans went up 15 years and the average increase in other OECD countries was 11 years. On the bright side, we lead the world in health care research and cancer treatments. The 5 year survival rate for breast cancer is higher in the U.S. than in other countries. Survival from colrectal cancer is also among the best.
Most years medical spending rises faster than inflation. Most insurers pay doctors, hospitals and other medical providers under a fee for service system that reimburses for each test, procedure or visit. This encourages over treatment and repetitive testing. As we get older we tend to need more medical care. Even if evidence shows a treatment is not effective or is potentially harmful, it takes a long time for doctors to change their standard operating procedure. Which many hospitals merging, it allows near monopolies to operate in some markets driving up costs.
According to a report authored by David Squires ” Health care quality in the U.S. varies and is not notably superior to the far less expensive systems in other study countries.” While we are doing well in certain areas of cancer, survival among cervical cancer patients is in the middle of the pack. The U.S. is also the worst at preventing deaths due to asthma among people aged 5-39 years. We are also the most likely to amputate limbs of diabetic patients.
If our lawmakers stopped taking money from medical lobbyists things could improve. Democrats and President Obama have tried, they passed the ACA and it should help lower prices. For the first time in the history of Medicare health care costs fell for 3 consecutive years. Republicans don’t agree with doing anything to lowering health care costs, in fact they have voted 39 times to repeal the ACA. Those 39 repeals cost the American people about $60 million. Why won’t Republicans help lower health care coarse?
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