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The problem with American healthcare or why the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare will not work.

With the ruckus going on in the government about the ACA, they seem to have missed understanding the real problem.

Why is American health care so expensive?

U.S. health spending reached an estimated $2.7 trillion dollars in 2010 and the health share of the gross domestic product is projected to increase from 17.6 percent in 2009 to 19.8 percent by 2020, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. We have a health care system that is very expensive but does not work. When our health statistics are compared to other developed nations, we come out at or near the bottom of the list in a number of health areas. From 1992 to 2010 the US went from our healthcare system ranking number 18 to number 27 in terms of early death. Life expectancy at birth dropped from number 22 to number 27, while our healthy life expectancy fell from number 14 to number 26. Life expectancy rose from 75.2 years to 78.2 years, but our healthy life expectancy only increased from 65.8 years to 68.1 years during that time span. Although we are living longer, we don’t have good health. Our infant and maternal mortality rates are horrendous. And this is all in spite of the fact that we spend more money on healthcare than any country in the world.

From my perspective, here is where the problem lies. Our health care system is not designed to keep people healthy. It is designed to let them get sick and then suppress their symptoms with drugs or surgery. We also have confused prevention with early detection. All of the screenings, from simple blood tests to procedures like mammography are designed to detect illnesses that have already started.

Almost half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to a CDC report that was recently released. According to the report, approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more prescription drugs on a regular basis. You don’t get healthy by taking more drugs or by having fewer organs.

The Affordable Care Act attempts to deal with the health care crisis by fixing the insurance problem. But this does just what the healthcare system does — it treats a symptom – a healthcare system that does not work to keep people healthy is very expensive, which makes insurance expensive. I certainly realize insurance companies are an issue. They contribute millions to their political cronies. Insurance premiums go up so fast that makes you dizzy and the top executives of the 5 largest insurance companies in the United States average $40 million a year in salary. I literally have seen insurance companies destroy families and ruin people’s lives, but that does not make them the cause of the health care crisis. The things that lawyers do also add over $50 billion a year to healthcare costs. But all of that is really a drop in the bucket when compared to the fact that there were more than 2 dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits in 2008. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t in the business of saving lives. Rather, they are in the business of inflating the profit margins on their drugs as much as possible.

The truth is that we really don’t have a health care system in this country. We have a disease management system.

When they finally understand that the real culprit is a health care system that is designed to treat people’s symptoms after they get sick, then we can get the health care system fixed.

Eugene L. Packer, DC
Packer Chiropractic
Easton, MA

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