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The FT had a fabulous cartoon in it yesterday that just about summed up the US health care system:

FT healthcare
Source: FT

It's all very well agreeing to curb spiralling costs, but quite how this will actually be achieved in unclear.

Ever since arriving in the US ten years ago, I've been fascinated and appalled by the dichotomy that exists in the system here.  The FT put it succinctly:

"The President is right that costs need to be better controlled. Nobody disagrees. The US spends vastly more than any other country on healthcare, yet fails to insure tens of millions of its citizens. Expenditures are growing faster than inflation and faster than the economy’s trend growth. Yet judged by health outcomes the system gets mediocre results at best."

I'm not sure what the solution is either, other than no matter what is proposed, the venture will flounder in policy, apathy and compromise that pleases no one.

Perhaps the unthinkable equilibrium will happen, as described by Paul Kedrosky:

"In thinking about Barack Obama's recent personal revelation about the evils of deficits, as well as the edge of budgetary apocalypse situation here in California, I got to thinking about one of my favorite Herb Stein quotes:

'If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.'"

We can all agree that the deficit and extravagant spending on healthcare cannot continue for ever, but stopping either in its tracks may prove easier said than done.  Unless we just fall over the abyss and avoid the future consequences of rising costs, an aging baby boomer population and new technologies.

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One Response to “America, healthcare reform and the white elephant in the room”

  1. Joan Koerber-Walker

    Puting the health back into our healthcare system will require a lot more than just cutting costs. Until we change the way we look at healthcare from both the provider’s perspective and the patient’s, we will continue to struggle. New breakthroughs in IT and diagnostics can make a big impact on the change to come. But in the end, we as healthcare consumers will also need to change our behaviors too.

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