Sick Care, You Get What You Pay For

In America it generally holds true that you get what you pay for. When you pay more for something you get more of it. How about health care?

As a nation we spend about 16% of our annual income, our gross national product, on health care. That’s more than all other countries spend. Are we getting more health care for all the money we spend? Then again do we really want more health care?

Health care is a service just like tax accounting. Receiving the service may not feel very good but in the end if it’s done well we appreciate the outcome. In the case of our accountant we receive a well prepared, unlikely to be audited, tax return. Our health care providers perform tests, treatments and give advice but ultimately what we really want is good health, not health care. So are we getting what we pay for?

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we spend more on health care than anyone else, by many measures we are not any healthier. American’s life expectancy does not lead the world and because of obesity, smoking, alcohol, drug addiction and other lifestyle issues we are not the healthiest nation on earth. In fact, we currently rank 42nd in life expectancy behind other less affluent, less developed countries.

Health for sale?

So does this mean the basic economic treatise of “you get what you pay for” doesn’t hold true for health care. Actually, it does, it’s just a matter of what you measure.

In America, physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment suppliers, virtually everyone in the “health care food chain” all benefit financially when they do more to us or sell us more stuff. Sadly, they benefit financially when we are sick, not when they lead us to good health.

Think about it, when was the last time you sent a hospital a thank you card and a check because you were still healthy four years after they did your cardiac by-pass surgery? Did you send the company that provided you with the antibiotics for your cough an extra $10 this week because you were still feeling great? And most importantly did you give your family doctor a bonus at the end of the year because he got your blood pressure under control and you didn’t have a stroke?

In all of these cases they would be financially better off if you weren’t feeling well so they could get paid to take care of you again.

It may seem crass but the truth is we have a sick care system, not a health care system. For the most part everyone in the system gets paid more when we’re sick and less when we are healthy. And as sick care consumers we’re also at fault in that we continue to pay for products and services regardless of whether in the end they make us healthy.

So how do we convert a sick care system to a health care system? Well for the next several days, exercise, eat a healthy diet and enjoy a safe Labor Day Holiday . . . then return to Mature Market Experts for my prescription for our sick care system!