Get this: According to the National Institute of Health Care Management, over 50 percent of our country's spending on health care goes to treating only 5 percent of the population. On the plus side, though, the same study concluded that those "super users" are also our best shot at curbing health care costs. If we target them with active preventative care, maybe the treatment expenses won't balloon. Hey, it's worth a shot.
You see the commercials all the time. "Ask your doctor if _______ is right for you." You know what? How about I just trust my doctor to make their own decisions on my care and not be influenced by a green cartoon toe fungus creature?
So do these commercials really work? Well, in a 2009 NPR piece, Julie Donohue, professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh explained, "Something like a third of consumers who've seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor about it. About two-thirds of those have asked for a prescription. And the majority of people who ask for a prescription have that request honored." So, there you go.
3. We Spend Way More On Health Care Than Everyone Else
According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we spend a whopping 17.7 percent of our economy on health care. That's more than twice the average for developed countries! But, hey, at least we have the best hospitals in the world, right?
Vaccines save lives. They are the product of hundreds of years of scientific and medical progress and they are absolutely crucial to a functioning society. It all comes down to a concept known as "herd immunity," in which a certain percentage of the population needs to be immune to a disease in order to prevent a sustained chain of transmission to those who are too young or too sick to receive vaccination.
What happens when you opt out of vaccines because some former Playboy model told you to? You weaken the entire herd.
And we're not talking about the cost of raising them, either. We're talking just about the cost of babies being born in the first place.
Numbers pulled from the International Federation of Health Plans showed that, on average, a new mother can expect a hospital bill of about $10,000 for a typical delivery. And that's before she's even bought a single diaper!
When profit-motivated companies get to set the price of prescription drugs, you get situations like earlier this year when our friend Martin Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750. For those doing the math, that's over a 5,000 percent increase.
Seriously, screw that guy.
7. Doctors Are Incentivized To Provide A Lot Of Care, Not Good Care
Most health insurance policies are built on a model called "fee-for-service." Basically, that means for every visit, test and bit of treatment you get, the doctor and hospital receive a lump sum of money.
The problem with this system? Literally the only incentive that the doctor has for you to get better is their own humanity. Every financial-based metric would incentivize them to keep you just healthy enough to keep coming in for more pills and treatments.
When a Redditor posted this screenshot of their hospital bill after receiving treatment for a snake bite, everybody became justifiably outraged. A physician ended up commenting in the thread, attempting to explain the coy game that providers have to go through in regards to billing.
To put it simply: Everything's a negotiation. Insurance companies definitely don't pay the full amount listed on the bill, and, most of the time, neither do walk-in patients. The problem here is that it ends up where nobody really knows how much their treatments are going to cost. On the plus side, it can really sharpen your haggling skills.
That same OECD study mentioned earlier also revealed that, when compared to doctor-patient relationships in other countries, our docs tend to be quite a bit harder to reach. In fact, nearly 20 percent of patients felt their physicians didn't spend "enough time" with them when providing treatment and consultations. But, hey, there's always WebMD.
10. Too Many People Use Emergency Rooms As Primary Care
If you live in a big city, just about every emergency room you go to has a big line. Why? Because a huge number of uninsured and under-insured people use ERs in place of primary care. The reason why is simple: The co-pays are cheaper than most regular doctor visits. And, even scarier, according to a recent study by Health Affairs, many low-income patients say the treatment in ERs is better than what's provided by their primary care physicians.
...You see now how that "doctors don't spend enough time with patients" stat snowballs into all sorts of other problems? Welcome to American health care. Please take a number.