In the US we like to think we are number one in everything. But when it comes to health care the crowd will chant – “We’re number 37! We’re number 37!”
The American Medical Association will tell you we’re number 1. Many politicians talk about the US as having the best health care in the world. But the World Health Organization says – not so fast. Our health care system is far from the best – not even close. We’re even worse than Central American countries like Costa Rica. Turns out we’re just the most expensive. And it seems we just aren’t getting our money’s worth. http://thepatientfactor.com/canadian-health-care-information/world-health-organizations-ranking-of-the-worlds-health-systems/
How did we get so bad?
In a single word – money. Or, if you like – capitalism. The key phrase for capitalism is that it’s better to make money than to be good.
We’ve gotten so bad that while life expectancy for other advanced countries have steadily gone up, health expectancy for Americans has steadily gone down. https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/health/us-life-expectancy-study/index.html If you want to live long and prosper – don’t get your medical treatment in the US!
And if you get sick in a foreign country– not to worry – you’ll likely get far better health care there than you can get in the US. Often much, much better. Sad but true.
Why has this happened?
Once again, it’s money. While countries with a national health care system can take as much time as they want diagnosing your illness and coming up with the best possible answer, US doctors and clinics try to keep their costs down and profits up with doctors spending about 8-10 minutes face-to-face with the patient. Sometimes they spend so little time they get it wrong. Very wrong. Sometimes with deadly results. In fact the John Hopkins Medical Center, perhaps the most prestigious and well-respected medical facility in the US, puts doctor error as the third leading cause of death in the US. Seriously! https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death/ You are more likely to get killed by your doctor than to die in a car accident or get murdered. (Can we arrest the doctor?)
This is a frighteningly serious statistic. For many people, staying home and trying to pull through is actually safer than seeing a doctor. It seems like there is a serious risk to actually going to see a doctor.
The Politics of Medicine
Politics is a big factor in medicine, much more than it should be. Medical science has advanced at a breakneck pace – but most doctors have not kept up with the pace. While professionals such as teachers and even computer technicians are forced to keep up with the pace – doctors don’t have to. If you are a computer network technician, Cisco requires you to retest and re-certify every 3 years to make sure you are up to date and competent with current technology. Companies don’t want someone who is unfamiliar with current technology messing with their company’s tech infrastructure. On the other hand – an older doctor certified 20 years ago is not required to prove he or she is up to date or has any familiarity with current medical knowledge. They have lifetime certification and never have to retest. (Gasp) Even newer doctors only have to recertify every 10 years, which is not often enough to keep up with the rapid changes in medical science. Doctors are upset and angry about having to recertify at all and are rallying together to end the practice, which is both amazing and dangerous for public health. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2016/10/the_medical_recertification_test_should_be_a_thing_of_the_past.html
A lot has happened in medical science. There is only one cholesterol and it is all good. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/the-cholesterol-myth-that_b_676817.html Ulcers are not caused by stress but by bad bacteria in the digestive system. Saturated fat is not only good for you but necessary for good health. 90 per cent of your immune system is inside your digestive system. Fermented food is actually better for you than fresh food. Milk should be used very sparingly by adults while a drink or two of alcoholic beverages improves your health. There are several things much more destructive to your health than smoking such as sitting more than 4 hours a day or drinking diet beverages. Does your doctor know that – or is he or she stuck in the past?
Politics has ravaged health care. There are many FDA approved drugs which have side effects such as cancer, stroke, heart attack, unknown death (you just plain die from the medicine and they don’t have any idea why) or even suicidal urges. How did the FDA approve such drugs? Why are drugs that are not at all safe approved? Because of politics. Most of the members of the FDA board of approval are also on the board of directors of pharmaceutical companies who want to sell their expensive but dangerous drugs. Just because it kills you doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make money on it.
How did Oxycontin ever get approved? Currently, most drug addicts got started with opiods prescribed by their doctor. It’s actually been proven that people who are prescribed opiods for pain feel little or no pain relief but they enjoy their high so much they just don’t care. Doctors are drugging them up into happy land. Their patients – err – victims aren’t complaining. There’s big, big money in opiods and I guarantee you it won’t go away as long as it makes people rich.
The television show 60 Minutes documented how the Drug Enforcement Administration was punished for trying to contain the widespread abuse of opiod prescriptions. Powerful pharmaceutical companies castrated the DEA and made sure they would be unable to curtail the spread of opiods. Money talks, public health and safety walks. Ban dangerous drugs? What do you think this is? Central America?
It is also well known that doctors often receive payola from drug companies for prescribing their drugs. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-weissman/pharmaceutical-payola_b_102160.html Salespeople from drug companies are always visiting doctors and trying to persuade them to prescribe more of their products – especially the most expensive ones. Sometimes these salespeople are bearing “gifts” which we would call kickbacks. There is huge money in prescription drugs and everyone wants their share.
Always get a second opinion. I was diagnosed with a serious illness myself when my doctor saw a spot on my chest x-ray. I went to a second doctor who looked at the same x-ray and said “I guess he (the first doctor) doesn’t know how to read an x-ray. That spot is just congestion.” There are some good doctors. Some.
Do you really need that expensive drug? Or are you just helping that doctor buy that yacht or pay for that Caribbean vacation? Is it that the doctor is going to receive some under-the-table cash or perhaps free tickets to Hawaii if he prescribes that expensive drug to just a few more patients?
No More Family Doctors
At one time you had a family doctor who knew your family and whom you could trust. Today we get health insurance at work and if your old doctor is not in the network, you get a new doctor. Most doctors today don’t really know their patients and with clinic quotas of seeing 25 patients a day, they won’t ever get to know you. Or really care about you or your health. You have become a number that has to be processed for maximum revenue.
With kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies, it’s important that they prescribe some sort of medicine for you. Often it has disastrous results. More people die from prescription drugs and medical errors than murder and car accidents put together and these deaths are absolutely preventable. While there are rallies to force gun control and end drunk driving, there are no rallies to end deaths by doctor. There is no rally to force doctors to retest and re-evaluate themselves.
The American Medical system is very good at taking care of accidents and emergencies. If you get bitten by a rattlesnake or get shot by a gun – they are great. If you have a chronic illness – they get a failing grade. Why should tiny countries like Malta and Oman have a far better health system than the US? Money, politics, and payola.
You are not a patient – you are a customer. And business requires maximum profit per customer. How much can you doctor squeeze out of you?
I’ll go one step further and say that government agencies are way too corrupted by politics to even be believed. The American Dental Association and the American Medical Association, for example, say that fluoridated water definitely does not cause cancer. At the same time the American Cancer Society, a non-profit, and the World Health Organization say that there is not enough research to say one way or the other. The exact quote from the World Health Organization, as stated on the official website of the American Cancer Society is “evidence was inadequate to draw conclusions one way or the other “ – so how is it they are so sure?
I just want to finish this article by saying that if you have a medical condition and if that condition has been verified by more than one doctor, you should follow that medical treatment. The actual point of this article is – buyer beware. You are a customer of the medical market and you have to do your homework to find a good doctor who cares more about your health than your profitability as a patient. Finding a good doctor has become as iffy as buying a used car. There are a lot of cutthroats out there, but there are also a lot of good doctors. If you are prescribed a medicine, make sure to discuss with your doctor if you really need that medicine, and instead of relying on pain relief drugs try alternative methods of pain relief such as exercise, diet, vitamins, acupuncture and acupressure. Drugs should be your avenue of last resort, not the first.
As always, you should question everything.
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