I’m 41 today. Sort of. I was born on leap year, so today is my pseudo-birthday. My second driver’s license read 21 on Feb 28, 1993 so the state has established official precedent.

I have a very indulgent birthday plan, going on a road trip for a concert. Hint: we probably won’t hear the greatest song in the world, but could hope for a tribute.My road trip buddy for today is a major beer aficionado, and I’m a no-sugar-no-grains guy, so this should be interesting.

OK enough about me. To the question…..

If you live in the US (And from my blog stats, not all of you readers do, which blows my mind) you are used to hearing a piece of conventional wisdom that is just accepted as a statement so true and obvious, it’s like saying that we breathe air. But maybe it’s time to ask if this conventional wisdom is true, or at least, if we define it properly.

Here it is:

America has the best healthcare system in the world.

I think it’s fair to deconstruct that claim. I think it’s time to deconstruct that claim.

If I would suffer a gunshot wound, terrible car accident, or develop a rare brain tumor, then absolutely, no question, I am a flag-waving patriot and I am making my first choice the good old U S of A.

But if I were an alien, visiting the earth and observing the humans on it, I am not sure that I would conclude that this population clearly has the best healthcare. Our technology is top notch in responding to acute problems. But in preventing chronic problems?

I have more thoughts on this, but they aren’t well formed. So maybe it’s time to invite more input here. I don’t ask for comments much, but now I am. I don’t have a forum function on the blog, but I would love to hear from you.


Poll question for your consideration:

What does a good healthcare system look like? 

Forget the specific arguments of current policy, economics and politics. I am personally tempted to just point fingers at the AMA, the FDA, the AHA, etc etc… and we’ll still do that here. But for now, let’s have a conversation. All viewpoints are welcome, and I am especially inviting non-US perspectives, and those of people who work in the system. Another day we’ll discuss Steven Brill’s epic 36 page cover story in Time on the healthcare costs. He asks the question: before we decide who pays the high bills, why not ask why the bills are so high? That is a dense article, and worthy of your consideration.

But right now, the question is general: what does a good healthcare system look like?


9 thoughts on “Short Post, I Promise: A Rhetorical Question

  1. Well, for starters, no one should be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions. People with mental health conditions, obesity, heart conditions, HIV and MANY MANY other illnesses are, at this point, allowed to be DENIED health insurance. Shouldn’t we be helping people get the health care they need for these things? Without health insurance, many of these illnesses go untreated. A very close friend of mine went without health insurance for over a year…her husband lost his job, and insurance…she has a heart condition that requires daily medications, but she simply could not afford to take them. She had been denied health insurance from multiple companies and could not afford the deductible for the ONE that did accept her. Because her husband was no longer drawing income, they were unable to afford to buy the prescriptions out of pocket (and prescriptions/drug companies are another joke). That’s one of MANY examples to which I can personally speak. Maybe this isn’t what you were looking for (and not very eloquently written), but there you go!

  2. A good health care system would mean consistent costs with a justification for why the cost is x amount of dollars, not what we have which is a hospital price setter just making it up. See Time Magazine’s article Bitter Pill. So I agree with the person who wrote first and I think we need to be cracking down on hospitals and making them justify their costs and some of the not for profit hospitals who are making huge profits and paying their ceo’s outrageous amounts.

  3. I believe a good healthcare system starts with prevention. Find ways to keep the majority of the population healthy, and you will have enough money to help everyone.

    But this is not possible due to two big problems.

    It is obvious from the results of the last 30 years that the message for a healthy life is wrong, yet nothing is being done to fix it. Too many powerful people with too much at stake to want the message changed.

    We live in a society where most people prefer to take a pill which will mask the symptoms rather than make the difficult choices to cure the problem.

  4. My country has better health care than yours !..hey wars have started over this!!

    As you know I have lived in the US and just one of the awkward moments I remember is paying cash at the doctor’s office, for I can’t remember what. I have never been a foreigner in my own country, so I cannot compare, but I doubt my docter has cash money at the office. Also I brag to my belgian friends, that I could get shot while robbing a bank and still get my medical aid taken care of financially (whereas my current view of the US is perhaps, you’d need to rob a bank to take care of your medical aid), the belgians would have to have a document signed by the team / league officials stating the circumstances they were injured (I’m talking about amateur – football injuries).

    But it’s mental health care too, I remember going to Williamsport and individually saw 3 people of whom I doubted someone was looking after them as they didn’t look to be able to themselves.

    Just for comparison
    the Netherlands have a basic Health care package, mandatory for everyone (and paid for, for those who can’t). People can pick any company to sign up with and for the first time and companies are obliged to accept anyone the first time (if they have missed several payments with that company before, they’re allowed to refuse service)

    The package:covers
    – doctor visits
    – ‘necessary’ hospital treatments
    – glasses / lenzes (80% of the costs)
    – birth control
    – IVF-fertilization
    – most medication
    – name it

    Then, you can choose ‘plus’packages with your insurance company to get a single room, full imbursements on glasses, extra sessions with a physical therapist, more dental care etc.

    So even though there are no statues of Lenin in my street, I walk those streets with great confidence knowing I won’t have to worry about health care for me or the ones I walk among.

    As the population is getting older and the financial situation of our country isn’t as great as it was 5 years ago BECAUSE OF YOU GUYS!! 😉 the insurance rates and imbursements are under pressure, but I doubt there will come a day that people find themselves without health care in this country.

  5. Healthcare begins at home, in our kitchens. I prefer the term that you use..medical industrial complex to describe our sick care system, it is a broken system and we helped break it by passing on the responsibility for our personal health and the health of our children to entities that are in financial conflict with our best interests. Doctors do not keep us healthy, at best they can return us to health when things go off the rails, at worst, they help us die young and lower our quality of life while we are still “alive.” Doctors may only spend a few weeks in their entire medical training on the subject of nutrition and yet they will boldly and with authority, tell patients what to eat and how to lose weight. (and when this advice fails, the advice is not blamed, it is your fault because you clearly were noncompliant) Chances are very strong that any advice doctors are giving on food and weightloss comes right from the USDA, AHA, ADA or a handout from one of their drug salespeople and not from any meaningful personal study of the subject. A great starting point for all doctors would be to simply admit that they do not know what constitutes a healthy diet and suggest that patients do their own research, that is at least a step in the right direction. And don’t get me stated on registered dietitians…urgh!
    I can only imagine the countless thousands of people that have been harmed and killed, the countless years of lost productivity and poorer quality of life that can be traced back to the disasterous dietary advice over the last 35 years since our nation started pushing the lowfat and grains message and the drug industry’s solutions to fix the things that started going wrong as a consequence.

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