Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healthcare Will Bankrupt the Country

The congressional budget office projects that, without changes in law, total spending on healthcare will rise from 16% gross domestic product in 2007 to 25% in 2025 and 49% in 2082. It will bankrupt our country if we do not change. In countries that have better health outcomes, they spend far less of their GDP.
Countrypercentage of gross
domestic product
life expectancy

We are already spending far too much for so-so outcomes. That's why we need reform yesterday.

Andrew Weil wrote his opinion on why healthcare costs so much in our country. I agree with him on all points. His first point is similar to my point #7 from my first post. Call it a death panel or rationing of care, whatever you want, but there is a lot of unnecessary "care" (torture) going on in my opinion, and it needs to be brought out into the light. Don't count on a heart transplant and continue to eat junk food. Or less extreme, don't count on Lipitor to save your life. It will only prolong the life of 1 in 10 persons who take it, costing $90 a month per person. It may help 1 in 5 persons from having a heart attack. Sure, it's worth taking and I prescribe it very frequently. But I have no illusions that most patients who will have a heart attack will still have a heart attack despite taking Lipitor.

Some patient dissatisfaction with the healthcare system stems from an incorrect perception of efficacy. Even doctors are guilty of this fallacy. When I prescribe antibiotics for a bronchitis, I really think that it will work. But in the back of my mind, I know that research shows it doesn't really help most of the time. We try to help you feel better, fix what we can, and ease your anxieties. But we are not magicians with magic pills and potions. Like Weil, I think our medical progress is great, but we should not depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. There are some of us who are concerned the country is already bankrupt.


    My opinion is that it's due to domestic peak oil production in 1971 vs healthcare, but that's a different topic ;-)

    However, we can't get anywhere without real change. If we can't get single-payer, we have to have a public option that is available to everyone.