OP-ED

And the Worst Health Care System in the World Is…

The United States, of course.

Oh, no, wait, it’s Canada.

Actually, I think it could be Germany.

Geez, now I think it might be the UK.

You could go on and on like this.  But you know what?

No matter how good or bad your system is, there are certain universal truths.

Here are four of them that might make you look at global health care a little differently.

First, health care is getting more expensive, all over the world.  A new study by the global consultant, Towers Watson (disclosure: Towers Watson is a Best Doctors client) found that the average medical cost trend around the world will be 10.5% in 2011.  In the advanced economies costs will rise by an average of 9.3%.  While Americans tend to think of rising medical costs as a uniquely American problem (they’ll rise by 9.9% here), it’s just not true.  Canadian costs will rise by 13.3%.  In the UK and Switzerland, they will increase by 9.5%, and in France by 8.4%.

Why is it happening?  As ever, the main drivers are the increasing availability of new medical therapies – and inappropriate use of care.  We see the same phenomenon at Best Doctors in our global experience.  Across the world, our data for 2010 showed that just over 20% of patients had an incorrect diagnosis, and about half were pursuing inappropriate treatment plans.

Second, consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with their health care experience.  The Commonwealth Fund’s 2010 survey on views of health care found that 68% of Americans think their health care system needs to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt.  But 61% of Canadians thought the same thing, as did 58% of French people, 52% of Swiss, 48% of the Dutch, and 75% of Australians.  All of these places have remarkably different systems, and yet none of them are very well-liked at all.

Third, time spent dealing with insurance restrictions is a major barrier to quality care in the United States – but it’s becoming a problem elsewhere, too.  According to the Commonwealth Fund, 48% of American doctors said that coverage restrictions were a “major problem” getting in the way of delivering needed care.  While it’s less of a problem outside the U.S., nearly 20% of Canadian doctors reported the same problem.  As other countries adopt U.S.-style cost controls to deal with the rising cost of care, it’s likely that doctors in those countries, too, will start to report the same trouble.

Fourth, some employers, insurers and governments are looking for a better way.  The Towers Watson study reflected something we found in our own study.  Payers are increasingly implementing programs to get people to take better care of themselves and be more involved in their health care decisions.  Programs like wellness and prevention and higher deductible plans are part of an overall approach to getting consumers more engaged in their health.  But one of the fastest growth areas is still what some call “second opinion” – programs like what Best Doctors provides – where the goal is to help make sure that every person gets the right diagnosis and treatment.  Towers Watson found that 25% of health care payers across the globe have implemented these programs.  They help make sure each person is dealt with as a patient, regardless of how good or how bad their health care system might be.

So, who really has the worst health care system?

I don’t think there’s an answer to that question, except for this: don’t get sick.

Evan Falchuk is President and Chief Strategy Officer of Best Doctors, Inc. Prior to joining Best Doctors, Inc., in 1999, he was an attorney at the Washington, DC, office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson, where he worked on SEC enforcement cases.

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Tamika Cvetkovic
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Tamika Cvetkovic

@Jetton Yes.. it is true, Apple recently said on their Facebook page that they’re giving away 600 new iPhones. They will be claimed in a hurry, but here is the link that was shared http://tinyurl.com/jwkpvad PS You need enter the password apple_672 on page 2.

tf1AiqYC
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527949 883640when i was a kid, i really like to receive an assortment of birthday presents like teddy bears and mechanical toys, 14986

MS
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MS

It makes me sick what the politicians have done to this country, including but not limited to Health Care. We pay the most for health care than any other country and we are behind some third-world countries when it comes to decent health care for everyone. Why? Mismanagement and higher administrative costs. One big problem is, like other professions, the medical profession has bought the people’s government with their strong lobbies that work against what this country was built on and replaced it with self-indulgent greed. SHAME ON THEM ALL!

David Macfarlane
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David Macfarlane

That series of exchanges was not worthy of this very worthwhile source of information. I hope it isn’t a sign of how this forum is changing.

John Ballard
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Wow! Almost fifty comments.
It’s called The Last Word Game.
Reason and logic are not part of the equation.
Whoever has the last word wins.
For those who haven’t figured it out yet, nate always wins.
Most trolls are innocent of any sense of reason and he is no exception. He seems to be a deeply wounded individual, incapable of compromise, courtesy or sincere apology. However, I think he must be very successful in his work because, as seen here, he stays on task with unrelenting energy and determination. That level of commitment takes exceptional dedication.
Okay, sir.
Your turn…

Peter
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Peter

“You sound like the left wing media that will character assasinate someone and justify it as reporting on what others are saying so its ok” Really, the “left wing media” as character assignation, now that’s the kettle calling the pot black. Listened to Right Wing Rant Radio lately – opps sorry, I didn’t mean to unfairly insinuate you’re a conservative as you have much better character than that. You said your association with low income people was as landlord, I asked in what capacity you rent to low income as many times it is as a slum-lord. Now if you… Read more »

nate
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nate

“Where is it written in the constitution that a HDHP/HSA combo could not be subsidized on a sliding scale by the taxpayers?”
doesn’t IL or IN do this with Medicaid already? Or state employees. nope way off Iowa apparently
http://www.cahi.org/cahi_contents/consumerinfo/implementationguide.asp
I would be worried about them taking the money out and paying the penalty, wonder if there is a way to lock them down to prevent that

nate
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nate

“My “slum-lord” comment was followed by a ?, if you were uncomfortable with the question maybe I hit a little too close?.” So it would be fair to say, Peter as a; Racist? Sexist? Rapiest? Murderer? do you feel your a postive impact on society that is all ok, becuase there is a ? on the end? You sound like the left wing media that will character assasinate someone and justify it as reporting on what others are saying so its ok. If there is no reason to think your a murderer then I shouldn’t be putting it out there.… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

My “slum-lord” comment was followed by a ?, if you were uncomfortable with the question maybe I hit a little too close?. I was also a low income landlord Nate, but made sure my tenants were treated with respect and got safe, clean housing where the maintenance was never neglected. My link to the other web sites, since you seem to miss the obvious point more times than not, was to show that being poor is not always due to bad choices (unless you think choosing birth parents is a choice), and that we spend billions making sure the connected… Read more »

Mike MD
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Mike MD

Where is it written in the constitution that a HDHP/HSA combo could not be subsidized on a sliding scale by the taxpayers? The concept of giving the patient more control over how the money is spent is a separate issue to that of where the money comes from in the first place. The sad truth of the matter is that those who oppose HSA’s are really opposed to giving up the control they want to exert over their fellow citizens. Medicaid in my state had a project in which they gave patients with mental illnesses nearly complete control over how… Read more »

nate
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nate

“As a slum-lord” You base this on what? Why can’t you left livers ever have a discussion based on facts and information you actually know instead of just making stuff up? As usual I dont understand the point of your links, because some liberals in NY are overpaid crooks Medicaid is being cut? Can you articulate any points of your own instead of linking random articles? As a deathwisher I would have no problem executing 90% of Wallstreet and wouldn’t even want a trial. Don’t know why you linked the housing study but personally I always place great faith in… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

Oh, and Nate, this just in;
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/us/politics/29medicaid.html
Maybe more “poor” clients for your “affordable” health insurance that those “liberals” were codling?
But hey, it’s the poor’s fault.
http://theweek.com/article/index/208113/wall-streets-record-bonuses-how-outrageous-are-they
Maybe you’d like to read this;
http://www.fcic.gov/ and this;
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/01/29/2018598/probe-not-blaming-us-lending-law.html

Peter
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Peter

“Your average working poor’s greatest need is not catostrophic coverage, if they get really sick they wont be able to work, wont have any income, don’t have any savings or disability coverage and will be financially harmed either way. At their level a $2000 expenses really isn’t any different then a $5000 or $10,000. First dollar coverage to treat the little illnesses and accidents plus coverage so providers will treat them if something really serious happens. Meeting the deductible is the lowest concern. Frequently they can get it written off by providers anyways or financied by them.” “A lower deductible… Read more »

TTT
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TTT

your a freaking liberal scientist with that argument
And you’re an autistic Randroid whose frothy-mouthed deathwishing of millions of people would undercut your arguments, if you had any arguments in the first place.

nate
Guest
nate

rbar I think we reached that magical point where we can have a meaningful and factual conversation, assuming you meant troll in the kindest of ways. In regards to where the flaw lies I would say both. Mainly it is the flaw of the individual for not valuing a check up more then a TV but it is a flaw of our society that we foster and almost feed people to it. If you tell someone to consume consume consume and help them do it I don’t think you can solely blame them for doing it. That being said just… Read more »