Medical malpractice is now the third leading cause of death in America, studies have found, with between 250,000 and 440,000 people dying annually due to medical error. “It’s the system more than the individuals that is to blame,” the author of the John Hopkins study on the issue said.
Meanwhile this very same broken medical system that is responsible for 10% of all US deaths by way of malpractice and error alone, charges extraordinarily overinflated prices to its customers, leaving the US with a $2.9 trillion annual bill!
A 2018 study found that per capita, the US spends nearly double what other developed nations spend on healthcare. Furthermore, the study revealed that the primary reason behind the high cost of American medical care wasn’t because of a higher ratio of medical specialists to regular practitioners, or because Americans visit the doctor more often than people in other countries, or any of the other reasons one might expect; but rather because of insanely high costs the medical system charges across the board, raking in the profits by overcharging the sick and dying.
For example, American physicians make double the average income of doctors in other countries.
Specialists, nurses and primary care doctors all earn significantly more in the U.S. compared to other countries. General physicians in America made an average of $218,173 in 2016, the report notes, which was double the average of generalists in the other countries, where pay ranged from $86,607 in Sweden to $154,126 in Germany.
The cost of medical procedures in this country are also as much as triple or more than in European countries! For example:
In 2013, “the average cost in the U.S. was $75,345 for a coronary artery bypass graft surgery, whereas the costs in the Netherlands and Switzerland were $15,742 and $36,509, respectively,” the report states.
The report also found that Americans spend far more on pharmaceuticals than other countries as well.
The problem we have here isn’t that the actual true cost of providing medical care in the US is for some strange reason far higher than every where else in the world, but rather simply that the American healthcare system has made profit its highest goal, and is thus charging far more than necessary, often extremely insanely exorbitant fees, such as handing out a $40,000 bill for a twenty minute procedure as The NY Times reported as seen above.
This is what happens when profit is put above human life - when the industry responsible for saving and healing human life is run just as any other corporate industry. This is the natural result of a for-profit corporate medical industry, particularly one that has become entangled with the extremely corrupt and lucrative Big Pharma industry.
These are the reasons why doctors habitually treat only the symptoms of the plethora of chronic diseases plaguing Americans, rather than finding and eliminating the cause (primarily the ‘normal’, toxic, American lifestyle).
Perpetually treating the symptoms of chronic disease in a patient by prescribing pharmaceuticals is far more profitable for the healthcare industry than curing the disease. Not only does this approach rake in the profits for Big Pharma, but the patients suffering from such chronic illnesses must make costly regular visits to the doctor, and many will eventually need much more expensive procedures, surgeries, and longer hospital stays. All of this is profitable to the industry, but not the patient, and that much more so when patients are being regularly overcharged for everything from a regular checkup to a complex surgery.
Most of the doctors are not to be personally blamed, for they are just doing what they were trained to do. It is the fault of the system, a system designed to be highly profitable, a system that caters directly to the pharmaceutical industry, a system that ignores relatively inexpensive and highly effective holistic and natural medicines in favor of expensive and often addictive and dangerous pharmaceuticals.
This is what happens when the primary focus of medicine is shifted from saving and healing life to corporate profits. This is what happens when society places more value on money than on life itself.
NPR notes how Medical journalist Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal “warns that the existing system too often focuses on financial incentives over health or science.”
"We've trusted a lot of our health care to for-profit businesses and it's their job, frankly, to make profit," Rosenthal says. "You can't expect them to act like Mother Teresas."
Furthermore, “She notes that under the current system, it's far more lucrative to provide a lifetime of treatments than a cure.”
It seems to me that if there is one single industry that should be run completely as a nonprofit industry, it should be the industry of saving life. It seems entirely outside the spirit of compassion and love for neighbor to charge one another for life-saving knowledge and procedures; and not only is that what we do, we have made doctors one of the highest paying careers of society, and the medical/pharmaceutical industry one of the most profitable industries in society.
Russell Andrews, a neurosurgeon and author of Too Big To Succeed laments “the morphing of American medicine from a function of a humanitarian society into a revenue stream for healthcare profits, drug and medical device companies, hospitals, and insurance companies. In essence, we have transformed healthcare in the U.S. into an industry whose goal is to profitable.” Andrews goes on to characterize the profit motive as “a virus” infecting the system.
If we are to solve the problem, we must remove the virus infecting the system. We can do this by returning healthcare to the role it once played as a function of a humanitarian society, rather than allowing it to be just another tool of the widespread corporate greed that has hijacked American society, which it has now become.
There is certainly a real cost to provide medical care to patients, but it sure doesn’t need to be this high. I am not advocating for a government-run socialized medical system. A simple transformation of the current healthcare industry into one based primarily on compassion and care for humanity rather than profit would surely go a long way in making a world of difference.