Or simply the greediest?
"The other travelers came walking down the track
And they never went further, no, they never went back
Then came the churches then came the schools
Then came the lawyers then came the rules"
Dire Straits, Telegraph Road
As a European in the USA over the last ten years it never ceases to amaze me how expensive everything is in healthcare compared to back home. That goes for dentistry too, but that's a whole 'nother story.
What is both interesting and tragically sad is comparing the US with other countries in terms of various healthcare costs and finding it number one in just about every category, it isn't just the drug companies charging higher prices, physician fees, hospital costs etc are also much higher than in other Western nations including Canada and European countries.
The Montclair State University Sociology Dept compared the costs of:
- an office visit
- a day in the hospital
- a common procedure (childbirth without complications)
- a widely used drug (Lipitor)
And found the USA stood out every single time:
They downloaded the data, and plenty other examples, from here (warning PDF file).
Strategically, the data makes you realise that healthcare reform is more than just reducing drug costs and blaming the Pharma and Biotechnology industry, because the hospitals and doctors are also charging premium prices too. The whole economic system is completely out of whack and with the constant upward pressure on wages and costs over the last 10 years, everyone wants a piece of the pie.
The sad thing is that the ones left holding the baby are the patients, because they sure don't get 4 times the value of their European or Canadian counterparts. When you couple the data above with data on the number of uninsured people as noted by the Health Populi blog:
"Between 2007 and 2008, 18% of American women between 18 and 64 years of age were
uninsured. 1 in 10 women in this age group were enrolled in Medicaid."
"In 14 states, at least 1 in 5 women was uninsured."
You can see more key information in the statistics provided in the table below:
The end result is often tragic stories, where people lose their job, their ability to pay for insurance and risk dropping into a very big hole of debt or worse, they sadly die. What kind of decent civilised system can even allow such stories to be imagined, let alone happen?
As the recession bites deeper and more redundancies and layoffs occur, so the situation may well get worse before it gets better. These sort of stories can happen to anyone who has the misfortune to lose a job and get sick.
There has to be a better way and fairer to provide more affordable healthcare for all Americans, otherwise bankruptcy on an unimaginable scale will surely ensue. The European and Canadian systems aren't perfect since they may offer more limited choices, but they do offer healthcare for all and everyone has the right to be treated.
In America, you're on your own and no one really cares unless they get paid. Money talks.
I rarely write about politics on this blog but it goes without saying that I will NOT be voting for Chris Christie for NJ Governor today; his idea of making people pay even more for healthcare such as the cost of mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer was just a ludicrous bridge too far. Where are the fresh ideas and inspiration for getting small, medium and large companies back on track in this State?
As I look around me, it is 3 old school candidates with boring old school ideas that don't work anymore; patronage reigns supreme here, do your time, look after your own. Who really cares about the We The People of the United States or even New Jersey? In a few years, we might get some bright young things with fresh ideas and energy like Newark's Cory Booker or hey, Mayor Bloomberg, if NYC doesn't want you come over the Hudson and shake things up here! NJ desperately needs shaking up and the corruption cleaned out once and for all.
To paraphrase Britain's The Sun newspaper:
Will the last person leaving New Jersey please turn out the light.
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