Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tom Daschle's healthcare book "Critical"

I've started reading Tom Daschle's book Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis. This is an important book, because Daschle is the newly appointed secretary of Health and Human Services. It's his depiction of and prescription for healthcare in America. It's concise but detailed and easy to read. You should buy it; really.

I'll be summarizing it here using the approach I used in Best Care Anywhere: highlighting as I read, then posting the highlighted bits here.

So far, his reporting on our current reality matches what I've been able to learn from my reading this year of books and blogs.

As I've learned in studying data reported by PCPCC, the US is the only nation in the industrialized world that doesn't have universal healthcare. Not surprisingly, our overall level of health is also worse, which is bizarre because as I've reported, our per capita spending is also the highest, by far – more than twice the industrialized world's average.

And that's part of why 48 million of us have no health insurance at all, leading to people avoiding getting care. Which spirals into severe episodes, despite the vast evidence that regular care avoids the crises.

Did you know medical bills have been reported to be the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US? I checked Daschle's assertion (I'm spot-checking as I go), and here it is. Bonus tidbit from that report, not in Daschle's:

"Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by illness had health insurance. ... 56% were home-owners. In many cases, illness forced breadwinners to take time off from work -- losing income and job-based health insurance precisely when families needed it most."
And that was back in 2001, people. Watch what happens now. 533,000 jobs lost in November. And realize that this problem does not exist anywhere else in the industrialized world.

And their costs are lower. Everywhere but in America.

In parting, a presidential statement to ponder:
"Millions of our citizens do not how have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protectionof security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrive for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.

"People with low or moderate incomes do not get the same medical attention as those with high incomes. The poor have more sickenss, but they get less medical care. People who live in rural areas do not get the same amount or quality as those who live in our cities."

-- Harry Truman, 1945
A natural question is how things got this way, given that the situation is no better than after 63 years of action and the highest spending in the world. Comin' up.

1 comment:

  1. Facts that are believed to exist regarding the U.S. Health Care System-

    This may be why about 80 percent of U.S. citizens want our health care system overhauled:

    The U.S. is ranked number 42 related to life expectancy and infant mortality, which is rather low.

    U.S. is ranked number one in the world for spending the most for health care- as well as being number one for those with chronic diseases. About 125 million people have such diseases. This is about 70 percent of the Medicare budget that is spent treating these terrible illnesses. Health Care cost presently is over 2 trillion dollars of our gross domestic product. One third of that amount is nothing more than administrative toxic waste that does not involve the restoration of the health of others. This illustrates how absurd the U.S. Health Care System is presently.

    Nearly 7000 dollars is spent on every citizen for health care every year, and that, too, is more than anyone else in the world.

    We have around 50 million citizens without any health insurance, which causes about 20 thousand deaths per year. This includes millions of children without health care.

    Our children.

    About 70 percent of citizens have some form of health insurance, and the premiums for their insurance have increased nearly 90 percent in the past 8 years. About 45 percent of health care is provided by our government- which is predicted to experience a severe financial crisis in the near future with some government health care programs, it has been reported. Most doctors want a single payer health care system, which would save about 400 billion dollars a year- about 20 percent less than what we are paying now.
    Our health care we offer citizens is sort of a hybrid of a national and private health care system that has obviously mutated to a degree that is incapable of being fully functional due to perhaps copious amounts and levels of individual and legal entities.

    Half of all patients do not receive proper treatment to restore their health, it has been stated. Medical errors desperately need to be reduced as well, it has been reported. It is estimated that we need about 60 thousand more primary care physicians to satisfy the medical needs of the public health in the United States. And we have some greedy corporations that take advantage of our health care system. Over a billion dollars was recovered for medicare and Medicaid fraud last year through settlements paid to the department of Justice because some organizations ripped off taxpayers. These are the taxpayers in the U.S. who have a fragmented health care system with substantial components and different levels of government- composed of several legal entities and individuals, which has resulted in medical anarchy.

    The following variables sum up the U.S. Health Care System:
    Access- citizens do not have the right or ability to make use of this system as we should.

    Efficiency- this system strives on creating much waste and expense as it possibly can.

    Quality- the standard of excellence we deserve as citizens with our health care is missing in action.
    Sustainability- We as citizens cannot continue to keep our health care system in existence by supporting it.

    Dan Abshear


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