Thursday, September 03, 2009

About health care cost

I heard this bit on Bill Moyers Journal last Friday:

It is, I guess, politically correct, widely believed, that to say that American health care is the best in the world. It's not. There's a much more complicated story there. For some kinds of care my colleague Brent James calls it rescue care. Yes, we're the best in the world. If you need very complex cardiac surgery or very advanced chemotherapy for your cancer or some audacious intervention with organ transplantation, you're pretty lucky to be in America.

You'll get it faster and you'll probably get it better than in at least most other countries. Rescue care we're great. But most health care isn't that. Most health care is getting people with diabetes through their illness over years or controlling the pain of someone with arthritis or just answering a question for someone who is worried or preventing them from getting into trouble in the first place. And on those scores: Chronic disease care, community-based care, primary care, preventive care. No no, we're no where near the best. And it's reflected in our outcomes.

We're something like the… We're not the best health care system in the world in infant mortality rates. We're like number 23. There is an index that is used in rating health care systems, which is the rate of mortality that could have been prevented by health care. There are at least a dozen countries with lower rates of preventable mortalities than the United States and not one of those countries spends 60 percent of what we do on health care.

-- Dr. Donald Berwick

You can read more over at Alternet which has republished "Money-Driven Medicine - The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much" from Bill Moyers' Journal.

There's more about the problem with providing primary care, the debt new doctors have from medical school and the whole insurance/profit motive picture. Worth your time, definitely.

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