Sarah Schafer, MD
Abysmal and unsustainable: our broken health care system
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
I often enjoy Dr. Milton Packer’s blog on MedPage Today. He often thinks “big picture” about medical practice. His recent post provides an excellent analysis of the dysfunctional state of the U.S. health care system: I agree with his description of it as “abysmal and unsustainable.“ I highly recommend reading the entire article, but will share a few quotes that stood out for me.
Our healthcare system has become "financialized" to an extreme. Every component prices its products and services to the highest level that the market will bear. Many physicians make treatment decisions based on what they are paid to do, rather than what is in the interest of patients.
Per capita spending on pharmaceuticals is three times greater in the U.S. than in other parts of the developed world.
U.S. Administrative costs are four times higher in the U.S. than in other countries.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, one-third of all healthcare expenditures is a complete waste.
The result is that the U.S. healthcare system is more expensive than that of other countries, but we have worse outcomes. Even among those with access to healthcare, most people with chronic illnesses are not receiving adequate care.
Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as the key contributor to their financial woes. This is not how an advanced civilization should function.
I could not agree more with this last statement. You should not go broke because you got sick. It is ironic that even as an MD, my treatment choices are limited by what I can afford. Like many reading this blog, I have been too sick to work for many years. Medicare is helpful, but drug costs and even co-pays for PT and other visits limit my ability to access optimal treatment.
I don’t know what the best model for a health care system will look like, but this is not it!