Health Care or Death Trap? You Decide

It is time for me to write my first post. After a long time of researching, reading and writing, it’s time to make this blog come to life. I am not sure where to start, but I guess I can tell you what brought me here in the first place.

As an international student new to the United States, I was shocked by the bureaucracy of the health care system. It seemed like everything was being done to make things as difficult as possible for everyone involved: patients, providers and hospitals. After spending 3 months at a community hospital doing my clinical rotation for nursing school I was still unable to understand how such an amazing country could have such a subpar health care system. One would think that a country that spends more money on its health care than any other country would also have the best healthcare system; however, that is not the case with the United States of America.

So why does this matter? Why does it matter if our health care system came in last place out of 11 countries that were compared? Well it matters because every year people are dying due to lack of health care; so many people are not able to get insured due to sky-high premiums and they are left at the mercy of their ailments with no way out.

The U.S. health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.

It’s riddled with problems: massive waste, rampant inefficiency, uneven quality, inadequate access to care, exorbitant costs that are crushing businesses and government alike, defensive medicine that drives up costs and often kills patients — the list goes on and on.

Despite extensive research and numerous studies, the problems have only gotten worse over time. That’s not what one might expect if experts understood the causes of these problems and could fix them. But maybe it’s exactly what one should expect if these so-called experts have no idea what they’re doing.

We have all heard the saying “you get what you pay for” and it is no different when it comes to health care. While the U.S. spends more on health care then any other country, we rank last in quality of care. In addition to this we have seen cost skyrocketing every year. The cost of health care premiums has increased by 120% since 2000, while wages have only increased by 34%.

But why is this happening?

Well, there are a few reasons for this:

• We spend more on administrative costs than other countries in the world

• We pay pharmaceutical companies more than other countries in the world

• We do not negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get lower prices

This means that we spend more on health care, yet still do not get as good of quality. This is something that needs to change, and fast!

The worst kept secret in the US is that our healthcare system is broken. While we spend more per capita than any other country on earth, we get the least amount of care in return. We are ranked 37th in overall quality of medical care. Our infant mortality rate is worse than Cuba’s.

The problems are numerous and varied. The biggest problem is that there is no free market when it comes to healthcare. When you go to the doctor, you are not paying for your own care, with your own money; instead you are paying for someone else’s care with their money.

This has led to a situation where health insurance has become so expensive that it has become mandatory for all employees to have it (via employer mandate) or else face financial penalties from the government (via individual mandate).

This has led to a situation where health insurance policies have become so expensive because insurance companies have no incentive to control costs. They don’t care if someone spends $100,000 on a cancer treatment; they just pay the bill and then increase premiums on everyone else who uses the system less frequently.

It’s all very complicated and nuanced issue; but in this blog I’m not going to try and explain how we got here (there

A few years ago, some friends and I were talking about what we would do if it came to a choice between health care or death. This was prompted by the fact that one of my friend’s wives had just died due to cancer. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer at 28, and died at 40. She never had insurance, although her husband did. He was in the military, and provided insurance through his wife. He lost his job in 2001, and his wife was not able to obtain insurance because of her pre-existing condition.

His wife died after finally getting on a program for low-income patients with pre-existing conditions, but the coverage was only $5,000 a year. She needed chemotherapy every three weeks, which cost around $15,000 per treatment. It is unfortunate that she could not get the proper care she needed when diagnosed with cancer several years prior when it could have been treated successfully.

On another note: A friend of mine recently had twins by C-Section at the age of 42. They were born prematurely at 6 months gestation. One twin was in the NICU for 4 months and one for 5 months due to respiratory problems and other complications from their premature birth. The total cost for both babies in the NICU

The United States has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, but we are not doing our best to take advantage of it. We seem to be falling further and further behind. In 2006, a study done by the Institute of Medicine showed that 46% of Americans had at least one chronic disease and 20% had two or more. This is astounding when you consider that we use more than twice as many prescription drugs than other industrialized nations. Why are so many people sick?

The answer is simple: that’s where the money is. It would seem obvious that those with chronic conditions would have the highest health care costs, but according to a recent study by DxCG (a company who provides health care management services), this is not always the case. The average cost for someone without a chronic condition is $2,967 per year. The average cost for someone with a chronic condition can range from $3,000 to over $100,000 per year depending on their disease and treatment options. Most patients with chronic diseases spend around $20-30,000 per year out of pocket for medical expenses.

Why does this matter? Because insurance companies now have access to data mining software that can

Community Health Systems, Inc. (NYSE: CYH) is a leading operator of general acute care hospitals. The organization’s affiliates own, operate or lease 206 hospitals in 29 states with approximately 31,100 licensed beds. Affiliated hospitals are dedicated to providing quality healthcare and value to their communities in the 28 states they serve. Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Community Health Systems is one of the largest publicly traded hospital companies in the U.S. and a leading operator of general acute care hospitals.

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