the American way of healthcare

The US approach to healthcare is without doubt the worst in the developed world. It is even worse than that of many low-income countries. Much has been written on this, but FT columnist Rana Foroohar manages to add to the discussion. She even writes about her own experience at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the UK, where she gave birth to two children. She reports that she was pleased to have all her needs “from basic check-ups to specialist visits — provided quickly and efficiently in the same place”.

Here are excerpts from her column that I found especially interesting. I agree very much with her view that “choice” of physicians and surgeons is a costly luxury that is not necessary in an efficient healthcare system.

Unlike their peers in the rest of the developed world, American companies are liable for covering healthcare insurance costs for two-thirds of the country’s population. Even if the country’s healthcare spending wasn’t double most of the rest of the rich world’s, with far worse outcomes, this would still be a competitive disadvantage in a global marketplace in which rivals don’t have to shoulder that burden. ….

Healthcare emergencies and the costs that result are the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in the US. ….

Americans have a sense of entitlement about many things and healthcare tops the list. Most rich countries decided decades ago that it makes economic, political and moral sense to provide a basic level of care for all citizens, rather than offering everyone the “option” of the most cutting-edge medical treatments, whatever the cost.

Yet Americans still hold fast to a mythology that “choice” is what makes the system fair. No matter that fewer and fewer people have any kind of choice at all — particularly now that Obamacare’s individual mandate, which required everyone to have some form of medical coverage, has been repealed by Mr Trump.

Rana Foroohar, “The American way of healthcare“, Financial Times, 5 February 2018 (gated paywall)

Ms Foroohar, who was born in Iran in 1970, currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her two children. Ms Foroohar is also employed by CNN, and previously spent 6 years at TIME magazine and 13 years at Newsweek. She graduated in 1992 from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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