More Grim Statistics on the State of Healthcare in the U.S.

It’s surprising to me that many Americans still tend to think that we have a good (or even working) healthcare system.  They ignore vital statistics and research studies that show that we’re in real trouble.  The percentage of our population that is uninsured is astronomical, and numerous studies have shown that the quality of our healthcare system is extremely low when compared to that of the rest of the world.  Still, the United States spends more money per capita for healthcare in the entire world.  So, we have an expensive system that just doesn’t work.  Some cases in point…

MSNBC reports today in ER wait times getting longer, study finds.  From the article:

WASHINGTON – Patients seeking urgent care in U.S. emergency rooms are waiting longer than in the 1990s, especially people with heart attacks, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

They found a quarter of heart attack victims waited 50 minutes or more before seeing a doctor in 2004. Waits for all types of emergency department visits became 36 percent longer between 1997 and 2004, the team at Harvard Medical School reported.

Especially unsettling, people who had seen a triage nurse and been designated as needing immediate attention waited 40 percent longer — from an average of 10 minutes in 1997 to an average 14 minutes in 2004, the researchers report in the journal Health Affairs.

So what’s the problem?  I think we can blame it on unbridled greed and profiteering.  Remember, our healthcare system is designed to make corporations and hospitals rich (even if it’s at the expense of patients).  Also from the same article:

They used other surveys to calculate that the number of emergency room visits rose from 93.4 million in 1994 to 110.2 million in 2004.

During the same time, 12 percent fewer hospitals operated emergency rooms, according to the American Hospital Association.

“EDs close because, in our current payment system, emergency patients are money-losers for hospitals,” Wilper said in a statement.

But, wait!  There’s much more.  I’ll add some of the more interesting updates in future posts.


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