Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Sad State Of Affairs

A report commissioned by the non-profit and non-partisan Commonwealth Fund, gave the U.S. health care system low grades on outcomes, quality of care, access to care, and efficiency, compared to other industrialized nations or generally accepted standards of care. Bottom line: U.S. health care barely passes with an overall grade of 66 out of 100. How the Land Of Milk & Honey has such a dismal health care record is simply unacceptable. Here are some of the noteworthy statistics:

--Only 49% of U.S. adults receive the recommended preventive and screening tests for their age and sex.

--Only half of patients with congestive heart failure receive written discharge instructions regarding care following hospitalization.

--Nationwide, preventable hospital admissions for patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma were twice as high as the level achieved by the best performing states.

--Hospital 30-day re-admission rates for Medicare patients ranged from 14% to 22% across regions.

--One-third of all adults under 65 have problems paying their medical bills or have medical debt they are paying over time.

--Only 17% of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records, compared with 80% in the top three countries.

--On multiple measures across quality of care and access to care, there is a wide gap between low income and the uninsured, and those with higher incomes and insurance. On average, measures for low income and uninsured people in these areas would have to improve by one-third to close the gap.

--As a share of total health expenditures, insurance administrative costs in the U.S. were more than three times the rate in countries with integrated payment systems.

Most of these problems can be solved through universal health care, but I guess that makes too much sense...


Brother Smartness said...

The dearth of universal health care in this country is truly abysmal.

Brother Darkness said...

I agree. I'll admit that I grew up somewhat spoiled when it came to health care. My mom was in the military so all of our health benefits were covered. Yearly checkups were easy, going to the ER didn't mean I had to wait for hours and getting medicine wasn't a drawn out process. But now, in the real world, I see how messed up things are on the other side of the glass. For a country that talks so much about our health issues, we do absolutely nothing about it. Even old people in retirement homes can't get good service. What does that say about America? Ok, you're on your death bed so we're going to do our best to make sure you croak.

It reminds me of an episode of Law and Order: SVU when this guy was selling bad flu vaccines (unknowingly of course). What made it even worse was the fact that he found buyers in ordinary people and hospitals. We will get to that point where crack, cocaine, and other illegal drugs won't be the only things sold on the corners. Keep an eye out for the next season of The Wire when they're tapping the phones of large pharmaceutical companies.