Wednesday, September 16, 2015

US Healthcare is too damn expensive

The US puts 19% of GNP into health care.  That's incredible.  Nearly one dollar in five is spent on health care.  US made products are 19% more expensive than they ought to be, just to pay the worker's healthcare.  No other country in the world spends (wastes?) this much money on healthcare.  Other first world industrial countries pay one half what we do, and their health is every bit as good, in some cases a little better than in the US.  And their products bear only an 8 % healthcare markup compared the 19% in the US.  No wonder manufacturing is moving over seas.  Relocate and cut your healthcare costs in half.  Such a deal.  Who can resist?
   The media offers no information about where the lavish US health spending goes.  They don't know, and don't have a clue.
   I can tell one story, the rise of the fetal heartrate monitor.  I designed one of these goodies back when I worked at Analogic.   At this time, every single delivery room in the US is equipped with one of these $10,000 dollar devices.  Analogic made quite a bit of money selling them.  Today, to lack a fetal heart rate monitor is to invite a malpractice law suit.  Any hospital would far rather buy some $10K gizmos than face a million dollar lawsuit.
   Unfortunately, all this high price high tech did absolutely nothing to reduce infant mortality.  Several studies published in the medical journals showed that infant mortality rates did not change at all after the introduction of  fetal heart rate monitors.  The only effect of the new tech was a solid increase in the rate of C-sections.  Everytime the monitor trace looked a little funny some one would cry "Fetal Distress" and zap, off to the operating room.
   In short, a good deal of money was spent but results did not improve.  I wonder how many other expensive things get charged to the health insurance that look nice but don't actually do anything.
   The rest of the world  enjoys good health care while spending half as much.  Why cannot we learn how to do it too?
  Some one ought to ask the two doctors in the race what they think and what might be done.

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