Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Which Healthcare "crisis?"

Judging by the number of questions I have been getting from friends, relatives and people sitting around in the barbershop, there is a lot of confusion about healthcare reform. People seem to know there is a “healthcare crisis,” but don’t understand what about it is a crisis. So I set up this blog to try to help.

About 85% of Americans have health insurance, most receive it from their employer and others from government programs (Medicare and Medicaid). You have likely heard that about 46 Million Americans do not have health insurance since this is the main crisis we hear reported in the national media. But the crisis is bigger than this. We spend more on healthcare than any other country, receive less for it, and have substantial inequalities.

[1] Coverage - The U.S. is the only advanced industrialized country that does not provide healthcare to every citizen.

[2] Costs - The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country, in 2007 $6,567 per American. The second highest country was Switzerland which spent about 1/3 less, $4,233.

[3] Health outcomes – In 2007 the U.S. infant mortality rate was highest among advanced industrialized counties 6.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, about double Japan – which had the lowest rate (3.2).

[4] Disparities – There are tremendous disparities across race/ethnic groups in health outcomes. According to CDC in 2006 African Americans had the highest age-adjusted death rate. There were 1001.4 deaths for every 100,000 African American. The Whites rate was 777.0, Native Americans 642.1, Asians 428.6 and Hispanics was 300.1.