Friday, 20 September 2013

John Green: Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

Wow. John Green and his brother Hank are busy boys indeed. Mr. Green is an author (His January 2012 book The Fault in Our Stars reached number one on a New York Times Best Seller list.) and with his brother release videos in their YouTube channel covering all sorts of topics. Rather than blog, they vlog.

I ran across the following video the other day about American health care costs. Isn't everybody still debating this? - Geesh, how many times have the Republicans tabled a bill to repeal Obamacare? They are never going to give up. - When I reposted this video, I added that you Americans are f**ked. You have the right to bear arms (I question that interpretation of the second amendment) but you do not have the right to be healthy. Yes, think about that one for a second. The GOP says that Obamacare is going to bankrupt the nation but the U.S. costs for health care are astronomical in comparison with other countries. The status quo is going to bankrupt the nation. You never should have left the health of the citizens in the hands of private industry. Like other services, roads, electricity, food stamps, welfare, etc., health care should have always been the jurisdiction of government, something the collective we provides all of its citizens. United we stand, divided we fall. United we're healthy, divided we're sick.

John Green (almost) raps through a number of startling statistics, the sources of which he has documented in the notes for the video. These stats have been detailed before and seem so incredible, it's no wonder anybody is not incredulous upon hearing them. How could this be true? It is completely against everything anyone would believe. Is this just not more liberal B.S.? But one source, Aaron Carroll, associate professor of Pediatrics and health services researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine, doesn't seem like a nutbar. In fact, he seems like he knows what he is talking about. Could it be that the GOP are not telling us the truth? Could it be that the GOP don't know what they are talking about?

Published on Aug 20, 2013 by vlogbrothers
Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?
In which John discusses the complicated reasons why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other country in the world, and along the way reveals some surprising information, including that Americans spend more of their tax dollars on public health care than people in Canada, the UK, or Australia. Who's at fault? Insurance companies? Drug companies? Malpractice lawyers? Hospitals? Or is it more complicated than a simple blame game? (Hint: It's that one.)



John Green's References
The Incidental Economist? The Commonwealth Fund? Never heard of them. But in the References section below, I discover that these sources of information are legitimate and respected.

The Incidental Economist - Sep 20/2010
What makes the US health care system so expensive – Introduction by Aaron Carroll
You all wanted to know what makes our health care system so expensive. You all want to know where the money is going.

The Commonwealth Fund - May 2012
Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality (PDF) by David A. Squires
This analysis uses data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other sources to compare health care spending, supply, utilization, prices, and quality in 13 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other country. However this high spending cannot be attributed to higher income, an older population, or greater supply or utilization of hospitals and doctors. Instead, the findings suggest the higher spending is more likely due to higher prices and perhaps more readily accessible technology and greater obesity. Health care quality in the U.S. varies and is not notably superior to the far less expensive systems in the other study countries. Of the countries studied, Japan has the lowest health spending, which it achieves primarily through aggressive price regulation.

NY Times - June 1/2013
The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill by Elizabeth Rosenthal
"Colonoscopies Explain Why U.S. Leads the World in Health Expenditures"
Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin.



Final Word
Obamacare is going to bankrupt the United States? The current health care system is going to bankrupt the United States! Leaving the health of the nation in the hands of private industry means that profit comes before health. Being healthy is no longer a right of every citizen; it is now the privilege of those who can afford it.

In June 2012, in my posting "Obamacare: Congratulations on doing the right thing, America!", I wrote about how the U.S. needed this change in its health care system, that health should be a right. 50 million Americans are uninsured and I pointed out the following.

A report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies states: "Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States." (Wikipedia: Uninsured in the United States: Consequences)

I remember posting the above stat and somebody tweeted back: "I don't believe in that liberal BS." There's the problem. Does your average voter know what's going on? Do voters see the big picture? If you're a Republican, is your party objectively looking at the facts or are they merely sticking to their ideology? Health shouldn't be a privilege; it should be a right. A healthy nation is a productive nation.

But what to do about any of this? After all, I am but one person and what can one person do? Vote Democrat? Support Obamacare? Demand that Republicans look at these numbers? I repeat: being healthy should be your right.


References

Wikipedia: John Green (author)
John Michael Green (born August 24, 1977) is an American writer of young adult fiction and a YouTube vlogger and educator. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, and reached number one on a New York Times Best Seller list with The Fault in Our Stars in January 2012.

Wikipedia: VlogBrothers
VlogBrothers is a video blog style channel on YouTube. The Internet-based show is created and hosted by brothers, John Green and Hank Green. The first incarnation of the brothers' online broadcasting was the "Brotherhood 2.0" project, preceding the establishment of the pair's regular vlogging activity through the VlogBrothers channel.

Wikipedia: Hank Green
William Henry "Hank" Green ll (born 5 May 1980) is an American entrepreneur, musician, and vlogger. He is best known for his YouTube channel Vlogbrothers where he regularly uploads videos along with his brother, John Green. He is also the creator of the online environmental technology blog EcoGeek, and the developer of Subbable. He is involved with several other channels on YouTube, including Crash Course, SciShow, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,The Brain Scoop, and Sexplanations.

YouTube channel: vlogbrothers

Twitter: John Green @johngreen
I write books, including Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. (Books are like tweets, except longer.) I also make videos with my brother.

web site: John Green Books

web site: Hank Green Internet Guy

Wikipedia: The Incidental Economist
The Incidental Economist is a blog focused on economics, U.S. health policy, politics, and law, though posts in other areas are common. It was founded in 2009 by Austin Frakt, a health economist and Boston University assistant professor. Austin has been joined by Aaron Carroll, associate professor of Pediatrics and health services researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Don Taylor, associate professor of Public Policy at Duke University, as the blog's principal authors.

Wikipedia: Commonwealth Fund
The Commonwealth Fund is a private U.S. foundation whose stated purpose is to "promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable" and the elderly. It is active in a number of areas related to health care and health policy. It is currently led by David Blumenthal, M.D.

2013-09-20

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1 comment:

3kids2cats1divorce.com said...

I love when you go all Canadian on our American asses! As my divorce progresses, I'm faced with losing my (husband) employer-sponsored health insurance. I'm running around like a madwoman to get tests and procedures done before the divorce is final...because in the US staying healthy is most emphatically not a right of all citizens. I effing love Obamacare. It's the only way I'm going to be able to see a doctor for quite some time!