Lowering Health Care Costs Is Hard Because Every Patient Is Unique — That’s Bull $hit.
Below is my scathing response to this recent article in The Atlantic, by Dr. David A. Shaywitx, director of strategic and commercial planning at a San Francisco based biopharmaceutical company.
I’m not surprised that this article was written by someone representing a biopharmaceutical company who sees every cure as a new drug and has a profit motive to find ways to justify high costs – in this case the “complexity of patients.”
This is exactly what’s wrong with our health care system – it’s actually a sick care or disease management system that has nothing to do with keeping people well and healthy and that treats symptoms to keep patients alive but coming back as paying customers.
This immensely profitable medical industrial complex takes in some $2.8 trillion/year, which is nearly twice as much as any other nation on earth, and it doesn’t want to stop that revenue stream. So, it spends three times as much on lobbying as the military industrial complex.
Think of it, 70% of healthcare costs are due to lifestyle choices, but most physicians never learn anything about nutrition, exercise or holistic medicine, and they aren’t allowed to spend time counseling patients on better lifestyle choices.
If we only spent the same amount per person as other nations who live better and longer, we could easily save $1 trillion/year. That’s each and every year, not spread over 10-20 years.
The problem is medicine has become a business, a very big business, and the incentives are all wrong. Docs don’t have access to patient medical records from other institutions, because those institutions see it as proprietary and choose different EMR systems on purpose. That allows them to charge for new tests rather than rely on results from elsewhere, and it helps keep patients from leaving to competitors. The institutions don’t disclose what their charges will be and their outcomes are ahead of time so patients can shop for the best value. I could go on and on, and I’m not even a healthcare professional. I just write about it.
Yes, Every Patient is Unique
The one thing I agree with the author on is that every patient is unique, from both a medical perspective and their housing, financial, and family environment too. But rather than use that as an excuse to justify high medical costs, why not tailor solutions for each situation, as in personalized medicine.
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare
I encourage you to watch the “Must See” documentary, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare”. It won several awards at the Sundance Film Festival, and was described as “An Inconvenient Truth for the healthcare debate” (The Village Voice), and I wrote a summary here, where I collected the many statistics from the film.