The U.S. Health Care System: A model of corruption

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Imagine one day, you get sick. You develop unimaginable abdominal pain and fear the worst. Searing hot pain is radiating through you like you’ve never experienced before. So you rush to the hospital in a state of pain, panic, restlessness and doom and find yourself treated with pain medicine and a hospital stay including a pricey tour of the operating room to remove your appendix. Two months later you receive the bill for that terribly fateful day that you hope to soon forget and as you make payments day by day you see your money dwindling away slowly sinking you into financial debt. Now imagine you are already living close to poverty…

Many Americans and people all over the world find themselves in a similar situation every day. The US health care system may not have blatant corruption on the individual level, but America has found a way to make health care corruption official through large scale directing of costs and profits. The US spends nearly 18% of our GDP on health care costs while other countries offer superior care at much cheaper rates.

Even with insurance, Americans struggle to afford normal care. Savvy and strong armed people, like The Martins are able to make decisions as to exactly how much care they want and how much to pay for it. I’ve experienced the same situation when scheduling an MRI scan, not necessary but highly advisable by the doctor… we discovered there is an ability to bargain for price. When the insurance company gives you one price, the hospital another and the bill yet another…all varying by hundreds of dollars, what do you pay? And more importantly why isn’t there a set price and why do prices fluctuate so much?

So why do we spend so much on healthcare? Well it’s a multifaceted problem but one perplexity in the system has been uncovered by a recent report that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare released earlier this year. This report doesn’t say how much hospitals make from one procedure but it does tell us how much hospitals charge per procedure. Not only are their jaw dropping variations among prices between hospitals in the same areas but sometimes the price is double or triple that of the hospital down the road. Not only do the same procedures in the same areas vary within price but the hospitals also charge Medicaid/Medicare sometimes three to five times what they usually pay for a procedure. The US health system has evolved into a for-profit system where this vast amount of wealth (in both individual hospitals and gross GDP cost) is being rechanneled into the same political and economic powers that created it and you and your appendix are paying the price.

For some more media with a passionate twist on this topic check out this youtube video that elaborates on this topic.

Kathleen Graham

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