The Amazing US Health Care System

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 9th Edition (OK, I have an old dictionary) amazing is derived from a French word meaning “to confuse”.  Obsolete meanings include consternation, bewilderment and perplexing.

Yes, health care in the US is truly amazing.  Rube Goldberg could not have invented a more illogical maze of non-systems.  Lewis Carroll’s might have added an additional chapter on Alice’s efforts to get those pills that made her big and small.  Kafka might imagine a special Penal Colony for those responsible for this maze.

I should be careful on this last point, since I am part of that system.  I administer the benefit plan for approximately 25,000 participants.  I like to think that we do our best to help our members navigate what is all to often a daunting and perplexing maze.

Take for example a retired woman who called our office recently.  She was turning 65 and wanted to know if she had to sign up for Medicare Part B.  Her concern?  She was starting cancer treatments.  But her doctor did not participate with Medicare.  The payments were too low.  So now, just as she was starting a physically and emotionally draining process, she was being compelled to leave a doctor she trusted, because she would not be able to afford her.  Because the doctor could not earn enough by treating her. Because our plan could only afford to cover Medicare eligible retirees as long as they were enrolled in Medicare.

Amazing!

 Most critics of health care in the US focus on the uninsured, or on the high cost of health care, or the poor outcomes.  This blog will tell stories that highlight the inherent waste and inefficiencies that are built into the system.  They are the combined result of a free market ideology that does not work for health care, and a focus on solving only one part of the problem at a time.

More later!

James L. McGee

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