We spend twice what the Japanese spend per person for healthcare and close to twice what they spend in Canada and Western Europe. Yet, these nations are as healthy as we are or healthier and they insure everyone. This shows that about half the money we spend on healthcare gets nothing for it.
What are the Canadians, Japanese and Western Europeans doing or not doing that make their systems better than ours?
1. They have the big drug companies or Big Pharma under control:
a. They have price controls on drugs that make them cost less than what Americans are forced to pay. In the U.S. our government gives Big Pharma monopolies to enforce sky high prices for up to 20 years on each drug.
b. They do not allow drug advertising. Drug advertising encourages the use of brand name drugs over equal generic drugs. It also encourages the use of drugs for illnesses that may not require them.
Worst yet, drug advertising creates an income stream that strongly discourages media from covering anything negative about Big Pharma or their drugs lest they risk losing advertising revenue.
Americans use the most drugs per capita than any other major developed country. Over prescription of very expensive drugs are a major part of our healthcare costs.
2. Many of these nations have what is called “Single Payer” insurance. This means there are no costly health insurance middlemen. Health insurance companies create a mountain of expensive paperwork with all their different forms and rules. Trying to get insurance companies to pay for things is another costly time drain.
With a Single payer, there is one set of forms and rules. The government collects the revenues and pays for the services. There are basically two kinds of Single Payer:
Type one: The government runs and pays for all services. All the medical people are employees of the government. England uses this kind of system. Here in the U.S., the Veterans Administrations (VA) uses this system.
Type 2: The government pays providers who are independent. Canada, Japan and Western Europe use this type of system. In the U.S., original Medicare uses this system.
3. These countries have much more control over hospitals including price controls. This is so even if the hospitals are independently run. The hospitals in the U.S. are in disarray. Their high prices are beyond chaotic. They negotiate different prices with different insurance companies and Medicare. Individuals without insurance pay the highest and can even be price gouged.
Prices for procedures can vary wildly between hospitals in the same area and compare even wilder between different parts of the U.S. Maryland has some of the lowest prices. They have controls on their hospitals.
For profit and “Non Profit” hospitals buy out all the hospitals in an area forming monopolies. Why does anyone want to own a chain of Not-for- Profit hospitals? Try looking at salaries and CEO bonuses.
4. We over use procedures. In some single payer systems, doctors are employees of the government. There is no incentive to prescribe procedures or drugs that will make the doctor money. In the U.S. there is a potential conflict of interest when a doctor makes a medical decision and stands to make money from it.
One primary example is in cardiovascular care. Dr. Michael Ozner , an experienced, well-trained board-certified cardiologist and a Fellow of both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cariology, states in his book, “The Great American Heart Hoax” the following:
“America spends at least $60 billion a year on invasive cardiovascular care…America has 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we perform half of the world’s bypass surgeries and stent placements….More than 1.5 million Angioplasties and coronary bypass surgeries are done annually in the U.S…For the majority-an estimated 70-90 percent-these procedures are at best unnecessary. ..And while American patients are seven times more likely to undergo coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery than patients in Canada and Sweden, the number of Canadians and Swedes who die from cardiovascular disease is nearly identical (per capita) to the number of people who die from heart disease in this country.”
It gets worse as Dr. Ozner points out further: “the mortality rate for bypass surgery ranges from 3 to 5 percent….half a million people undergo these procedures every year, 3 to 5% quickly adds up: to 15,000 to 25,000 lives lost a year…The cost of heart bypass surgery can range from $40,000 to more than $100,00”
Dr. Ozner goes on to report in an article: “While coronary angioplasty (the opening up of a blocked artery with a catheter device) and stent placement can be indicated and potentially lifesaving in acute coronary syndromes such as heart attacks, utilizing this technology in stable patients who have coronary blockages is inappropriate and has never been shown to reduce the risk of future heart attack or prolong life as compared to more conservative therapy (lifestyle changes and medications as indicated). Indeed balloon angioplasty and stent placement can often lead to an increase in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared to an intensive prevention approach.”
Yet, about a million of these are done every year. Something is very wrong and expensive.
There are many other procedures that are overused at best or show no benefit at all. These will be covered in the future.
In Canada, Western Europe and Japan they cover everyone. American healthcare does not cover about 14% even with Obamacare. Millions more have high deductibles which they may not be able to use. They are healthier or at least close to as healthy as we are. Their costs are close to half what ours are. Our healthcare is inferior and in serious need of reorganization similar to the better systems of the world.
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