Here’s a question that comes to mind, and maybe yours too: Is America’s healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes for everyone. Below are the 10 most compelling arguments I’ve heard that our system needs a major overhaul. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind that an entire industry sprung up in the United States just to help people complete the incredibly complex task of choosing a health insurance plan.
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The cost is enormous
High cost, not the best quality. Although the United States spends significantly more on health care than other high-income countries, the United States performs poorly on many key health indicators, including life expectancy, avoidable hospitalizations, suicide, and maternal mortality. And with all that spending, satisfaction with the current healthcare system in the United States is relatively low.
Financial Burden.The high costs associated with having many underinsured or uninsured leave many people at risk of bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness. Prices vary widely, and it’s almost impossible to compare the quality or cost of healthcare options, or even know what bill to expect. And even if you ask a lot of questions beforehand and follow the recommendations of your health insurance company’s doctors, it can still happen that you get a surprise bill. My neighbor did it after knee surgery: if the hospital and his surgeon were in his insurance network, the anesthesiologist wasn’t.
Access is not equal to work-related health insurance. During World War II, health care was offered as a way to attract workers as employers had few other options. Few people had private insurance back then, but now a layoff could jeopardize access to health care imbalances. Today’s American health care system cruelly tends to delay or deny quality care to those who need it most but can least afford the high costs. This contributes to avoidable inequalities in health care for people of color and other disadvantaged groups.
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Health insurers can stop you from cutting costs. Many health insurance companies restrict expensive medications, tests, and other services by denying coverage until proof of benefit forms completed with the insurer. Certainly, this can avoid unnecessary costs for the healthcare system – and insurance. However, it also advises against any treatment that the doctor deems appropriate.
This can lead to short-sighted decisions. For example, if drugs are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, insurance may be denied unless a cheaper drug is prescribed, even though it is unlikely to work. A survey (note: self-upload) found that 78% of doctors said this led to people stopping prescribed treatments; 92% believe this has contributed to delays in care. And because expensive drugs could prevent future knee or hip replacements, the delay could ultimately prove more costly to insurance plans and patients, and contribute to more suffering.