Healthcare. Hmm, here we go again. It seems like reporters and newscasters just can’t seem to get enough of this headache-inducing topic. As Americans, we’re up to our eyeballs in healthcare information and statistics, and we don’t want any more of it.
But just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse… a study comes out showing that out of seven developed nations, the United States is ranked dead last for health care efficiency.
In comparison to those living in the other six nations (Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Australia and Britain), citizens of the United States pay more than twice as much for poorer services based on five measurements: efficiency, access, quality, equity, and the ability to lead healthy and productive lives.
It’s no secret the US healthcare systems has it’s flaws. Hence the huge uproar about it in Congress and daily news sources. But why exactly is it lacking so terribly?
With help from this article from 2007 by Exra Klein of The American Prospect, I have concluded why I believe our healthcare system is still lacking, and where we need to focus our efforts on improvement… apart from making better coverage more affordable, of course.
This is the big one. I can’t tell you how many times I had to go to doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, only to figure out what I knew was my problem in the beginning: low blood sugar. As simple as you would think it would be to diagnose, it’s the sad truth that some doctors are out for the money. For a simple consultation at a specialist, the cost was around $260. Sure, I only paid the co-pay, but those doctors were really cashing in for doing little to no work.
If doctors were paid based on the quality of their work, rather than the number of patients they could churn in and out of their office in a day, we would see a drastic improvement. Only 28% of doctors in the United States are paid partially based off of how well and how effectively they treat their patients. Compare this with the 98% that are paid this way in the Netherlands, the country that ranked first in the study, and it’s easy to see why this is such a big deal.
Hours of Availability
If you want to go to the doctor, you’re going to have to take some time out of your workday to do so. With most employers, this means taking at least a half a day of your precious few vacation days, often times without pay. While it’s not the most ideal for doctors unaccustomed to emergency room hours, it would make so much more sense for doctors offices to be open during evening and weekend hours to accommodate the average American in the workforce.
Little Preventative Care
Sure, there are some responsible people out there that go to all their regular check-ups and practice healthy lifestyle and eating habits, but they’re in the minority. Whether it’s due to laziness, a genuine lack of resources, or the fact that having a regular physician for accountability isn’t at all common, most Americans aren’t practicing proper hygienic upkeep. Better access through higher affordability and more convenient operating hours, in addition to proper health education, would be a step in the right direction to changing this.