Over the past 2-3 weeks I’ve been hearing all sorts of terms such as public option, government option, socialized medicine, death panels, etc…and wanted to take a closer look at the health care crisis the US is facing. There has been a lot of hype lately with people running around and saying “Oh My God, those death panels want to kill grandma.” My take is that if we don’t change the current system, many people like grandma are going to die.
Over the past week I stumbled across T.R. Reid a reporter for the Washington Post who released a new book last week titled “The Healing of America” . I actually didn’t know about the book, I happened to watch a PBS Frontline special and a couple of days ago listened to an NPR podcast, both chronicling the various health care systems from around the world…both were from Reid. I’m assuming the book expands on his travels and adds more depth to what he saw. If you want to get up to speed on the health care debate I would take a look at the PBS and NPR specials.
Reid outlines 4 basic systems of health care around the world:
1. Completely government run healthcare (aka socialized medicine) – Britain is the prime example. Everyone is covered.
2. Private docs/hospitals and private payments – France & Germany. Everyone is covered.
3. Private docs/hospitals and public payments – Canada. Everyone is covered.
4. Out of pocket (I like to call it out of luck) – US and many 3rd world countries. If you don’t have the money you are sh#@ out of luck.
And, all 4 systems are already running in the US:
1. Completely government run healthcare (aka socialized medicine) – Native Americans and Vet’s
2. Private docs/hospitals and private payments – Large companies
3. Private docs/hospitals and public payments – Medicare
4. Out of pocket – Millions of Americans
In the US, health care is not viewed as a way to help people but a for-profit endeavor and I believe that’s the crux of the matter. Pharma research, clinical trials, medical devices, etc…all target the US market because that’s where the big money is. There is no magic bullet to this situation and until we take out the hugh cost structure and margins associated with health care, this problem will not get solved.
However, the magic bullet might be found in India. While Reid traveled all over the world for his book he also had a shoulder problem and wanted to find out what the diagnoses would be in each country. He finally settled on an ayurvedic solution from India that worked.
Update: Another article I came across this past weekend offers a unique solution – How American Health Care Killed My Father.