“The Wrong Place to be Chronically Ill”

We’ve got problems.

I think anyone can agree with that, but this editorial in the New York Times reports the results of a study published by The Commonwealth Fund shows we’ve got BIG problems. Chronically ill adults from eight industrial countries were surveyed, and in the United States: (Read or download a .pdf file of the report HERE.)

* 54% of Americans did not receive care or fill a prescription because of cost;

* 34% say that their care was delayed because of “lack of coordination”… in other words, the results of a test or procedure not being available when needed;

*34% also said they had fallen prey to some type of medical error.

That’s shameful. Congenital Heart Defect survivors are living proof that the United States provides the best medical care in the world… And this report proves that not everyone can take afford to take advantage of it.

So what’s the answer?

My answer, I hate to say, will scare you: “I don’t know.” I don’t think that Universal Health Care is the answer. Chronic Illnesses already cost Americans a LOT of money. How much? Did the recent 700 BILLION dollar bailout give you a chill? We already pay two bailouts each year just to cover the costs of Chronic Illnesses. And we need more Primary Care doctors.

The head of the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission recently said that insurers can help to keep costs down by limiting patients to just the cheapest and best hospitals. The problem is, we don’t think like that. People believe that bigger hospital + better reputation = better results. That’s not always true – but you’ll gladly pay for it.

So what to do? If you read Funky Heart, you’ve already read The Happy Hospitalist’s rant about the cost and effectiveness of drugs vs. spending the time and effort to imporve yourself. It’s obvious that we’re going to contiune to need our drugs, our physical exams, and occasionally surgery, but we can help ourselves.  Follow Happy’s advice and get down to the gym. Go for a walk. (And I’m talking to myself here, I positively HATE cold weather, especially since I am taking bloodthinners. But it has to be done!) Take a dip in the pool. It doesn’t matter what you do, get active.

As my dad like to say, “Off your seat and on your feet!”

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4 Responses to ““The Wrong Place to be Chronically Ill””

  1. Kidney tx Says:

    What makes you say the US has the best health care in the world?
    Do people with Congenital Heart Defects survive longer here than in other countries?
    I have a kidney transplant and when I was on dialysis was shocked to discover that my life expectancy here (in US) was ~5yrs vs 10 yrs in other similar countries like Australia.
    Also the US has one of the lowest life expectancies and the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. Not something you would expect to find in a nation with the world’s best health care.
    Not trying to be inflamatory – genuinly interested in why you think its the best here.

  2. Steve Says:

    Read the next line: The report says that not everyone gets a chance to take advantage of it.

    I was lucky: my parents had wonderful insurance. Not everyone does, I hate to say. And I do think that CHD survivors live longer here… I’m 41 years, 7 months beyond what the doctors originally told my parents. Not bad, huh?

    There are currently two million (2,000,000) people living with a CHD in the US. Just over half of them are adults. And 90% of infants who have heart surgery today will live to adulthood.

    But the bottom line is, those sick children have to have access to medical care. THAT’S where the problem lies.

  3. carolyn compton Says:

    If you’re not Aboriginal :/

  4. mickland Says:

    U.S. health care has been declared a disaster. Britain’s subsidized NHS is little better. France’s hybrid system works, but we dont have perfect health care.

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