The Physician’s Point of View Part 2: Healthcare in the U.S. vs. Europe and Canada
My experience in the U.S.
I practiced in the managed care system in the U.S., and also in private practice. I built a couple of ambulatory surgery centers and faced the tough challenges everyone reading this — patient or physician — can relate to.
I’ve experienced the healthcare system and benefitted from it and been hurt by it.
Healthcare presents a multifaceted challenge that can’t be solved with a one-size fits-all solution.
Healthcare is a social problem, an individual problem, and a challenge to use self-determination to create better health outcomes.
Some argue that one form of single-payer system one is better than another.
This New York Times interactive data sheds light on this line of reasoning:
The United States has one of the biggest consumer-driven healthcare markets in the world. Some would disagree with that statement. I believe health is a human right just like food and water and housing and healthcare for all is our mission.
We have full consumer choice when we buy food and buying healthcare should be the same.
In Europe patients used to tell me their knee hurts, and ask what to do to make it better. That is the typical attitude in a healthcare system where patients follow the lead of single-payer system, whether they are getting the best available care or not.
In this country, the patient often tells the doctor what course of treatment they want. While I was working in managed care system we sometimes had to spend 30 minutes convincing a patient that he or she does not need MRI. Sometimes we had to go overboard to keep them happy, and we sometimes felt like a matchmaker between insurance companies and patients.
This is an attitude of a person who has been reading and investigating prior to his or her visit regardless of the accuracy of his or her research.
Traditional Universal Healthcare Model is Not the Path to Personalized Medicine
The current universal healthcare models can’t solve some of the most basic problems, including medications advertised but not covered by most insurance companies. This affects fairness in the delivery of care.
The single-payer system can lead to longer wait times for surgical procedures, and a narrowing of healthcare options. Americans already are traveling to Mexico to receive certain treatments that are not available in the U.S., which also complicates the single-payer system
Personalized medicine is the future of healthcare, but it cannot be at applied effectively in a “traditional universal” health system model that utilizes population health approach, because it will only lead to increased costs, fewer options, worse patient outcomes and decreased healthcare coverage, which in turn will raise taxes in this country to compensate and pay the bills. This wouldn’t be a popular option among American consumers,
Some have argued they can develop a version of the single-payer system that will cover all medications and tests and still be personalized. But how much are citizens willing to pay in taxes to achieve this? And will the proponents of that system be willing to utilize it themselves?
The Answer is No
In the UK, the wealthy have to spend out of pocket to be placed at the priority list for quality care.
Medical tourism has become the norm in Canada and is a lucrative business. It’ also becoming a business for us for certain cases.
It would be a great achievement if we could build a single payer system that could address every healthcare issue while ensuring the highest quality of care, but all we are going to achieve with single payer program is a minimal and defective care, not truly universal healthcare.
In countries like Canada medications cost 1/3 of what it costs in us even for exactly the same brand because government controls the price. But in the US, government subsidies and the price is often based on the lobbying power of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
Health is a human right …and we must make it personalized and universal
Can we solve our healthcare problems by studying other countries? Would it be a federal offense to plant the seeds of ideas that come from countries like Canada?
We have every tool including technology, knowledge and strategy to achieve a fruitful healthcare system that is personalized and less costly than the one we have now.
But our current system can’t provide quality care for all.
An old, biased, and unhealthy solution that are still consuming the opportunity for a better future. Healthcare is about the patient, the physician and their relationship.
This is why we are advocating for and building a healthcare system without borders.
It won’t come at the expense of our free choice, the free market, reasonable delivery times, top performance, top quality and safety.
We have been fixated on old fashioned strategies that have failed over and over before. But we’re in a new era now, and the new generation need new vision and new thinking.
Liberty and empowerment is fundamental to what every patient has the right to expect from today’s healthcare and medical delivery.
This is why we are creating point-of-care reform, arming independent physicians with necessary tools and placing patients in charge and in control of their health by personalization. These are the keys for successful universal health care delivery beyond borders of poverty and inequality.