There’s No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

As you’ve been reading in my previous blogs, seeing healthcare in a developing country has affected how I view the U.S. reform. I’m frustrated by its complexity, I’m confused by our waste, I’m annoyed by the politics, and I’m concerned for those without coverage.

Why is it so complex? It’s a known fact that incentives impact the way in which things get done. We should have alignment and agreement from patient, to provider, to payer, and back, so that everyone’s goals, including financial, involve efficient, quality care. This is a must.

According to the World Health Organization (2005), the US government spends more on healthcare per capita than almost any other country. Even more than countries entirely funded by the government. And on top of that, the average American is chipping in about $3,600 a year. This is wasteful. We can do better. Look at end of life care, look at places like McAllen Texas which spends almost twice the national average per capita, gather up our economists, and strategize to bend the cost curve.

One, the AMA rejects the public option. Two, Obama administration offers to retract the 20% pay cut to physicians promised by Medicare. Three, the AMA endorses Obama’s healthcare bill. This is politics, and this must be controlled before we can see anything progressive come out of Washington.

My professor told me about two patients of his who needed transplants, one from Illinois where Medicare paid for the procedure, and one from Indiana where Medicare didn’t; the former lived, the latter never got his transplant. This is not America, this is not acceptable. In assuring equal pursuit of happiness, we need to guarantee healthcare for all living within our borders.

I was once told, when trying to solve a problem, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Why aren’t Americans looking outside our borders at our more efficient, even healthier, counterparts? After spending just one week observing healthcare in Haiti, I realized that even from a struggling, resource deprived country, we have a lot to learn.

Published on: December 04, 2009
About the Author
Photo of Sally Greenwald

Sally Greenwald is a MD MPH student at a medical school in Boston. She is a dancer, a flutist, a swim lesson instructor, a right fielder in softball, and is conversationally fluent in French. She graduated from Tufts University in 2007 and spent a year as Guest Representative of the Emergency Room and Clinical Researcher of the ED at Stanford Hospital.

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