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Is our healthcare system broken? – Harvard Health

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Staying Healthy
Graphic of health care buildings, foundation crumbling
Here’s a question that’s been on my mind and perhaps yours: Is the US healthcare system expensive, complicated, dysfunctional, or broken? The simple answer is yes to all. Below are 10 of the most convincing arguments I’ve heard that our system needs a major overhaul. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, an entire industry has evolved in the US just to help people navigate the maddeningly complex task of choosing a health insurance plan.
Even insured Americans spend more out of pocket for their healthcare than people in most other wealthy nations. Some resort to purchasing medications from other countries where prices are far lower. The status quo may be acceptable to healthcare insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and some healthcare providers who are rewarded handsomely by it, but our current healthcare system is not sustainable (note: automatic download).
Other countries have approached healthcare quite differently, including single-payer, government-run systems, or a mix of private and public options. Perhaps some of the most successful can serve as a model for us. But, with so much on the line and competing interests’ well-funded lobbying groups ready to do battle, it’s far from clear whether reform of our healthcare system can happen anytime soon.
I haven’t met many patients who think our current healthcare system is great. In fact, I don’t know anyone who would design the system we currently have — well, other than those who are profiting from it.
The question going forward is whether there will be the trust, will, and vision necessary to build something better. It won’t be easy, but the alternative — continuing to complain while waiting for the system to implode — is unacceptable.
Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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What a great article. Thank you so much for discussing how our current healthcare system simply isn’t working for millions of people. This is unacceptable. It has been this way for far too long and far too many people have had to and continue to suffer due to our grossly negligent and inadequate healthcare system in the US.
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