Timothy Taylor has a must-read blog on the US health-care system.
We all know that the U.S. system has some of the finest and most innovative care in the world, along with extremely high costs and tens of millions of people without health insurance. But still, most people don’t realize just how screwed up the U.S. health care system has become. ….
How can the U.S. health care system simultaneously waste one-fourth or so of the king’s ransom that it spends each year, while still allowing 75,000 preventable deaths each year? The long answer is in the IOM [Institute of Medicine] report. The shorter answer, I would say, is that health care is increasingly complex in a way that requires systematic attention to collecting information and coordinating care–and the fragmented and helter-skelter U.S. health care system has not been good at these tasks. ….
[F]rankly, both the 2010 health care legislation and the Republican alternatives offer little more than tinkering around the edges and hoping for the best, while the U.S. health care system runs amok.
Timothy Taylor, “U.S. Health Care System Running Amok: The Institute of Medicine Report”. Conversable Economist, 11 September 2012.
I would add that neither of the two major parties address in any meaningful way the inefficiencies and high costs of US health care. The Republicans promise to solve the fiscal problem by shifting increased costs onto patients (in the case of Medicare) or onto state and local governments (in the case of Medicaid). The Democrats address the cost problem only marginally, promising to bargain with Medicare providers for lower fees. Medicare insurance covers the aged and the severely disabled. Medicaid covers the poor who apply and qualify. The rest of the population is on its own, and mandating the purchase of private health insurance does not change this fact.*
For more information, read Tim’s blog, at the link above. For still more information, download the 381 page (pdf, 5 MB) prepublication “Consensus Report” of the IOM. The title is Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America. The actual report ends on p. 319. The remaining 62 pages contain appendices, case studies and bios of committee members. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Downloads are free, with registration. I downloaded the full report, and stored it on the hard drive of my computer. I look forward to reading it very soon.
*Update: This sentence is too strong. The Democrats do promise subsidies to low-income families, for mandated purchase of health insurance. This addresses the problem of affordability, at least for some, but not the problem of inefficiencies and high cost of medical care in the US.