22 August 2009

Just Keeps Getting Better

I am now all about Newsweek.  Picking up the newest edition on Friday was, again, a great choice.  Featured is a special called The Smart List.  Again, they are successful by staying short and to the point.  With more direct reporting, Newsweek continues to produce a great publication.

One section caught my eye because I mentioned healthcare and misinformation recently.  In the short piece, more information comes to light concerning the perception of the high quality of American healthcare.  This time, the Commonwealth Fund is noted as releasing a study in which wait times for primary health physicians was compared.  The United States, along with Canada, ranked towards the bottom.  At the top were socialized systems such as Britain and Germany.  Canada proves that a poorly run socialized health system can be clogged, but there are others which have found success.  One possible reason for the issue in the United States: not enough primary care physicians.  With all the money in specialization, the number falls.  That does not blame doctors.  If they make it through four years of schooling and can push forth into a specialization that will help pay off debt and bring financial security, good for them.  What it may hurt are the people who are not in need of specialized care.

One could (and many do) argue that this is a reason to have more privatization.  With more competition and choice, primary physicians can have an opportunity to make more money.  Possibly true, but at what cost?  I personally have a tough time rationalizing how someone can make money off the ailment or injury of a person.  Care is necessary and the medical profession is a blessing, but how do you come up with the price for a new heart?  Elective work (ie. voluntary plastic surgery) is purely on the patient.  Doctors should be able to charge whatever they want when it comes to nose jobs and tummy tucks.  However, I find it a bit of a moral dilemma when it comes to emergency care.  An earning should be made for the service, but I believe that it can become excessive.  Maybe that is an issue for a separate occasion.  I am sure that many will not agree with my thoughts on what is and is not reasonable profit, but it is a much more involved discussion that would require a large diversion from healthcare.

I am not endorsing or suggesting that the healthcare systems in Europe should be used as models.  I know nothing about them.  However, the myth that the US healthcare system produces the best care for patients is not true.  I also remembered my favorite non-partisan website : www.factcheck.org.  They have analyzed just about everything that is being said in terms of the healthcare madness.