Seventy-two percent of Americans believe the healthcare system is “in a state of crisis

  • Seventy-two percent of Americans believe the U.S. healthcare system is “in a state of crisis” or “has major problems,” almost the same percentage (71%) who felt that way a few months before the Affordable Care Act was passed seven years ago. (Source: Gallup).
  • The combined percentages saying the nation’s system is in crisis or is having major problems has stayed in a seven-percentage-point range (from 67% to 74%) over the past 10 years.

If there is one thing I take away from this Gallup poll, it’s that the media has done a good job of saying “the house is burning” without calling the Fire Department. In the past week alone these were some of the headlines in media stories:

“Here’s why many prescription drugs in the US cost so much—and it’s not innovation or improvement”

“Life, Death and Insulin”

“Costs of lifesaving drugs rising faster than inflation: Study”

“A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills”

Anyone reading these headlines, as people tend to do with the information overload age, would probably agree that our healthcare system is indeed in crisis. While there is some truth in these stories they don’t offer solutions as much as content that makes voters angry.

While people feel our healthcare system is in crisis, it’s important to remember the following:

1ne: The death rate from cancer in the US has declined steadily over the past 25 years, according to annual statistics reporting from the American Cancer Society. As of 2016, the cancer death rate for men and women combined had fallen 27% from its peak in 1991.

2wo: Over the 12-months through October 2018, overall consumer prices grew 2.5%. The growth in medical costs over the past 12 months was slightly slower – medical costs grew 1.7%, and the growth in prescription drugs was even slower than that – 0.8%.

3hree: Retail prescription drugs represent just 10 percent of the $3.5 trillion the nation spent on health care in 2017, according the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

4our: Since 1960, age-adjusted mortality from heart disease (the #1 cause of death) has decreased by 56 percent.

5ive: Since 1950, age-adjusted mortality from stroke has decreased by 70 percent.

While these statistics are promising they mean little to patients who are forced to go to multiple healthcare facilities to get tested or people that fight with their insurers to get coverage for treatments THEY want.

The media has done a good job in pandering to an angry public when it comes to healthcare. Rarely do they talk about the successes of our healthcare system because stories like that don’t get attention. While Sen Sanders continues to aggressively attack pharma he forgets that 40% of all cancers are preventable and that drug prices only represent $.10 of every healthcare dollar. He should, instead, try to decipher a hospital bill and ask why a simple blood test can cost $1100.

Are there problems with our healthcare system? You bet but it’s time for the media to talk about solutions rather than just the probems.

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