To say we have a “health care system” is laughable; we actually have is a disconnected bunch of stakeholders who all view health care and the financing thereof through their own distinct lens. There’s a:
- heavy emphasis on profit and personal/corporate gain from individuals and organizations ‘serving’ the health care needs of Americans,
- all subject to direction and oversight by an increasingly overburdened regulatory infrastructure that in turn is
- directed by legislators who are often beholden to those
- folks making a living off the “system”.
Any wonder it’s completely screwed up?
Yet we often lose track of these central challenges when thinking about/developing solutions to problems in health care delivery and financing. Quoting Chris Brigham, M.D, “Many of the challenges we face in workers’ compensation are the results of flawed processes and wrong incentives – that drive certain behaviors – ultimately harming injured workers and society”.
There are a couple resources that help bring things back into focus.
First is the film, Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” www.escapefiremovie.com This is a terrific documentary of a medical industry – not system – with profit-driven, rather than patient-driven care. It has played on CNN several times during the past month and is available on ITunes and as a DVD. Our health care costs are approaching 20% of our gross domestic product. We spend $300 billion on pharmaceutical drugs – almost as much as the rest of the world combined. 65% of Americans are overweight and 75% of healthcare costs are spent on preventable diseases that are the major causes of disability and death in our society. It is inexcusable.
The second is an insightful article “Chronic Pain: Fundamental Scientific Considerations, Specifically for Legal Claims” by Robert J. Barth, PhD which was the lead article in the January / February 2013 issue of the AMA Guides Newsletter. Barth’s article is an in-depth discussion of evidence and scientific findings indicating eligibility for compensation is the dominant factor for chronic pain claims.
With chronic pain the reef on which the ship of workers comp is increasingly likely to founder, Barth’s piece is well worth the read. The key sentence – Barth quoting from a speech given by the author of a study on back pain – is this:
“Minor trauma was only associated with serious low back pain in a compensation setting.” [emphasis added]
Barth – “None of the surveyed participants who were NOT eligible for compensation developed serious low back pain after minor trauma.”
And there you have it: unequivocal evidence that there’s a huge amount of “secondary gain” driven medical care.
What does this mean for you?
Anyone who thinks there are simple answers to our health care mess is a simpleton.