Monday, April 29, 2013

US Healthcare System- Falling Behind

If you think that the US healthcare system is a model to emulate, think again. Here is an eye opening report recently published by the Institute of Medicine

US males and females in almost all age groups (up to age 75 years) have shorter life expectancies than their counterparts in 16 other wealthy, developed nations: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The scope of the US health disadvantage is pervasive and involves more than life expectancy: the United States ranks at or near the bottom in both prevalence and mortality for multiple diseases, risk factors, and injuries.

Our healthcare system is very good at providing high priced care, ordering expensive diagnostic tests, and performing costly elective procedures and surgeries. We are poor at preventing and managing diseases and chronic illnesses. Great disparities exist across US populations with respect to healthcare access, quality and outcomes.  

Sadly, I see this often during an average day's work.

The reasons for our healthcare shortcomings are multiple, as outlined in this viewpoint, and likely are the result of a myriad of factors including:
  • Lack of universal healthcare
  • Socioeconomic inequalities in the USA which include disparities in income and significant pockets of poverty
  • Excessive calorie consumption and rampant obesity 
  • High levels of drug abuse
  • High ownership of firearms with resultant gun violence, gun related accidents and suicides
  • Lower prevalence of safe sex in adolescents, lack of comprehensive sexual education
  • Cultural views about the government and personal autonomy/responsibility
  • Weaker public investment in early childhood education and safety net programs
Those who feel that our healthcare is superior to all are misinformed.   

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