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September 1st, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Healthcare Reform, Congress, Public Policy

Greed Hampers Health Care

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They can yell all they want, but protestors at recent town hall meetings organized by members of Congress cannot escape the facts: The U.S. health care system is horrible compared to other democracies — and it’s largely because of the profit motive.

An excellent article by author and ex-reporter T.R. Reid appeared Aug. 23 in The Washington Post. The piece clearly and succinctly outlines how our health care system compares to others around the world and, in the process, dispels myths being propagated by the Fox News-watching, Tea Party-loving crowd.

The most salient part of the article explains how the market-driven, for-profit aspects of our system actually stifles effective health care and drives up costs.

“It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise — private-sector, for-profit health insurance — is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care,” the article states. “But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

“U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for non-medical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.”

It adds, “The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.”

 
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