Hypermarketing Mediocrity

This says it all:

“Despite spending over $2 trillion a year on health care — 18% of the U.S. GDP and twice as much as any other nation — the United States ranks only 45th in life expectancy and 37th in a World Health Organization study on the performance of national health systems. The U.S. federal government currently spends more on health care than on Social Security and national defense combined, the next most expensive items, but Americans get the right treatment only 55% of the time. Expenditures on health care in the United States — already the highest per person in the world — are predicted to nearly double by 2016, to $4.1 trillion, or 20% of GDP. That means, if this trajectory is not altered, in less than a decade, 20 cents out of every dollar produced in America will be spent on health care. Currently, more than 75% of health care dollars are spent on patients with chronic diseases, yet an estimated 80% of all chronic diseases are caused by preventable factors, such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.4,5 But despite these statistics, less than 5 cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health.” (medicynical emphasis)

In my specialty the expense of treatment is astronomical while the benefits, at best, moderate. There are a few exceptions to this but the great majority of cancers if beyond a local lesion remain incurable. Costs of new treatments to extend life just a few months exceed that of most automobiles and can be more than the cost of most homes. We hypermarket mediocrity and ignore the basics–so what else is new?

As implied above one key to improving health care is assured access to preventive and basic health care services, not fancy costly aggressive therapies for advanced disease.

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