Stiglitz on the economy (and healthcare)

Washington Post has an op ed by Joseph Siglitz on the Obama’s economic challenges:

“Obama will also need to deal with some vast inefficiencies in our economy if we are to prevent further erosions in our standard of living. Some U.S. sectors are global leaders, such as our world-beating universities and the high-tech firms that thrive on the ideas hatched in our ivory towers. Others are embarrassing, such as health care, where Americans spend far more than citizens in many other industrialized countries and get underwhelming results. We need a bold approach here, reforming not just the way we provide medicine but also thinking more broadly about health. That means doing more about diseases associated with alcohol, drugs, tobacco and obesity, which have increasingly come to symbolize American over-consumption.”

Medicynic believes our system of healthcare has evolved to not contemplate value when considering treatment alternatives. Inefficiency is integrated into every level of our non system. In research the emphasis is developing patentable advances so as to develop new approaches that a company can monopolize for a generation. Despite laws that mandate reasonable pricing our new advances are priced to assure huge company profits rather than assure patients access. The U.S. private care system spends 30% of health expenditures on administrative overhead compared with 5-10% spent by Medicare. (Canada 17%, UK 12 %, France 10%) Suppliers and providers operate in a cost plus environment without any incentive to be efficient. Pharmaceutical manufacturers spend more on marketing than research and pass the costs along to all of us. They obfuscate mediocrity in order to maximize their bottom line rather than showing interest in patient well being or for for that matter the survivability of our health care system. Hospitals view healthcare in terms of product lines and profit margins rather than benefits to patients. Physicians almost never consider cost/efficacy when recommending interventions. How else to explain the popularity of use of expensive ($100,000 plus/year) interventions that have shown minimal effect on longevity.

As noted by Stiglitz notes we pay more and get less out of our healthcare than most other industrialized countries. Hopefully CHANGE is coming!

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