No question about it: Advances in medical technology that save and transform lives of millions of people every day in the US are astounding.
• Replacing diseased organs? Check!
• Bionic arms and legs? Check!
• Drugs to prevent or cure diseases that until recently could wipe out whole populations? Check!
• Complicated surgical procedures done robotically through tiny incisions? Check!
• Life-saving procedures for injury and disease that have catapulted survival rates upward? Check!
The list goes on. Thank goodness!
If you’re dazzled by the amazing advances in American medicine today, great! We are doing awesome things, so let’s celebrate those achievements!
But don’t let the bright lights blind you.
While the bitter debate continues about how to PAY for healthcare in the US, a report published last month by the Commonwealth Fund and summarized in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine about the overall SYSTEM of care in the US can be summarized in just two words, “WE SUCK.”
Well, we suck unless you think it’s an achievement to be dead last in the most fundamental measures of healthcare as compared to the ten other high-income countries in the world.
We can get more specific than just “we suck,” but it still doesn’t take a lot of words because the concepts aren’t difficult.
Our current system, as compared to other wealthy countries is unaffordable, inefficient, and unavailable or inaccessible for the people who need it most.
More isn’t better, either. The cost for excessive testing and treatment is estimated to waste $200 billion per year, and overly aggressive care that generates mistakes and injuries is associated with 30,000 deaths.
Then, add your voice to others to insist that we expand the conversation to include issues of affordability, appropriateness, and accessibility.
Good, basic healthcare that emphasizes prevention and overall well-being first should not be a privilege. Everyone benefits when everyone is healthy and well.
Share one thing you can do to work toward change so everyone has a decent shot to be well and do well.