5 Reasons Why U.S. Healthcare is Inferior to Other Nations

The debate on healthcare in the United States is not something new. It has been a point of contention and talking points for politicians for decades now. One of the primary points of attack and defense for both sides is to compare the United States’s system to that of other nations. While there are many ways of comparing the status of one nation to another, there are 5 key ways in which the U.S. system of private care and Medicare consistently fall short against other nations.

  1. Cost: That Americans spend more than any other country on healthcare is not disputed or a surprise to most people. Not only Americans but the government as well, pours more than 2 TRILLION dollars per year into the system and in 2009 the figure is expected to be about 17.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Not only are Americans factually spending more now, but there is no end in sight to this unprecedented growth and expense of quality care. By 2018, the figure, as a percentage of the GDP is expected to double. The Medicare and Medicaid programs that exist in the United States currently to provide coverage to the elderly and poor are expected to take up 50% of all of the national health care spending. High administrative costs are a large part of the reason why treatment is so expensive in the United States, coupled with the exorbitant fees charged by their pharmaceutical companies for life-saving and other types of drugs and treatments.

  2. Lower Life Expectancy: Despite spending so many trillions of dollars on coverage, Americans have shorter life spans than in other countries with different medical systems. While this is undoubtedly demographic to some extent, it also is undoubtedly due to the hesitation that many Americans feel about paying to go see a doctor when they feel unwell. This leads to late diagnosis of many conditions that wind up being fatal in the long run. This is especially true in the poorer and minority communities in the United States.

  3. Fettered Medical Practice: Doctors in the United States are unable to practice medicine free from the constraints of insurance companies, their own administrations, or worry about malpractice lawsuits. This leads many doctors to practice what has become known as “defensive medicine” in the country as opposed to simply doing what they feel is best for the patient.

  4. Overmedication/Overt-testing: Americans, especially their elderly, are subjected to much more medication in their lives than in other countries and, as indicated earlier, this is not giving them longer life spans. As part of the “defensive medicine” practice mentioned before, many doctors will prescribe pills to patients “just in case”, or order medical tests that may not be necessary both in order to simply assuage a patient’s fears and to avoid possibly land on the wrong end of a malpractice lawsuit in case it turns out the patient has something wrong with them that a test could have discovered.

  5. It is Less Efficient: Chaos and confusion abounds in the American system as opposed to those countries which offer a single-payer system. Imagine that whenever an insured patient in America needs to go to a doctor their insurance card needs to be verified to make sure it is still active. This is usually done by faxing to the insurance office which replies electronically if the patient is still covered and eligible to be seen. Doctors then, when they see a patient, must carefully track their discussion, their recommendation, and consider whether or not what they think will be best for the patient will be covered by their insurance. Sometimes this leads to their attempting to classify certain procedures a certain way in order to get around insurance rules and regulations.

    From there, the insurance company is notified again, this time of the doctor’s recommendations and the patient’s outcomes and they themselves decide (rationing) whether or not the patient’s insurance plan covers what is suggested, either the medication or procedure, then gives the green light to a certain extent. If the patient is prescribed medication, they will often have to go through the whole faxing/verifying process again in order to pick up their drugs from the local pharmacy. If they have to go through a medical procedure, controls will be put in place to make sure that they recover quickly and are out of the hospital not for comfort’s sake, but for the sake of cost to the insurance company. The reasoning behind all of this has created a massive, administrative boondoggle of a system that leaks efficiency every step of the way.