Reader's view: Health-care system needs major improvementIn his April 20 Local View column, Dr. Patrick Hall asserted that “the cost, quality and accessibility of care we doctors provide our patients” will be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act. As it stands now, the cost, quality and accessibility of our health-care system are in dire need of improvement.
In his April 20 Local View column, Dr. Patrick Hall asserted that “the cost, quality and accessibility of care we doctors provide our patients” will be adversely affected by the Affordable Care Act. As it stands now, the cost, quality and accessibility of our health-care system are in dire need of improvement.
The cost of the American health-care system is about twice as much as in other advanced countries. It’s more than 16 percent of our economy. Health-care costs are responsible for more than half of personal bankruptcies in this country, and most of these people have some form of health insurance.
The quality of health care customarily is measured by life expectancy, infant mortality and maternal mortality. These measures all find us between 30th and 40th in the world.
Accessibility in this country is our biggest problem, with 47 million people uninsured, resulting in about 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and untold suffering.
Hall agreed reform is necessary and prescribed “free market concepts.” In health care the free market is an illusion since patients generally don’t have access to provider costs or outcome data. The Affordable Care Act provides for the transparency that will enable informed patient choice. It provides for a cost-overrun panel that will note that physicians earn twice as much and that drugs and medical devices cost twice as much in the U.S. The panel also will note that insurance companies take a
20 percent to 30 percent bite out of the health-care dollar.
Health care makes up one-sixth of our economy, and there are a lot of us providers doing pretty well under the current system. So it isn’t surprising there’s resistance to real change. Real change is what’s needed, however, and the affordable health care act is a good first step.
Dr. Per Wickstrom