Health Care: United States Style

We’ve all heard it before.  The United States spends more in health care and receives less in return than any nation in the world.

Or some such nonsense.

But only in America are surgeries performed on minor wrist fractures within 24 hours that allows elite individuals to return to work:

Just 24 hours after suffering a fracture of his scaphoid bone, Kendall Marshall, point guard for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, was recovering from surgery and contemplating playing again.

I suspect that Mr. Marshall, and all of North Carolina, feels that this expenditure is a feature and not a bug of the medical care distribution system in the United States.  Further:

Andrew, a hand surgeon with Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic,  said Marshall’s method of treatment – surgery and the insertion of a self-tightening screw to fix the break – is a common course for athletes.

“As you tighten the screw, it compresses the fracture site together and gives it better stability,” he said.

Marshall’s wrist will be stable enough to play, Andrew said. Most patients wear a cast to immobilize the thumb. A hand therapist could make a soft plastic cast for Marshall, who could replace it with heavy tape to play.

We have it within our ability to call upon such amazing technology as this.  And yet we complain that we have access to such amazing technology as this.

There is no where in the world, in the history of the world, that has a better medical outcome than the United States.

4 responses to “Health Care: United States Style

  1. Besides pointing out that no one doubts that the “elite” (your word) and wealthy get some of the best care in the world in the US, the argument is that subpar care goes to the poor and middle class. That said, I’m pretty sure that if a soccer star in Germany had something similar there could be a quick surgery. Health care in Europe is really good, they have all the advanced technology and the “elite” there can pay a bit more and get more perks. It’s just that there is a minimum standard for everyone. They treat health care like education or police protection — everyone is guaranteed the basics, but if you’re wealthy you can always pay for higher priced private schools, private security firms, or in the case of health care more perks and benefits. It works, it’s popular (even amongst conservatives) and proven.

  2. Besides pointing out that no one doubts that the “elite” (your word)

    Heh. I meant that he is one of the top 100 people in the world at what he does. Not that he’s elite in the entitles sense.

    It’s just that there is a minimum standard for everyone.

    I wonder if that minimum isn’t slipping.

    In March [2011] this year, 34,639 people, or 11% of the total, waited more than that time to receive inpatient treatment, compared with 27,534, or 8.3%, in March 2010 – an increase of 26% – Department of Health statistics show.

    Similarly, in March [2011] this year some 11,243 patients who underwent treatment had waited for more than six months, compared with 7,841 in the same month in 2010 – a 43% rise.

    The British Medical Association said the longer waits and fewer treatments were inevitable: “Given the massive financial pressures on the NHS, it was always likely that hospital activity would decrease and waiting times would increase,” said a spokesperson.

  3. The British system sucks. If you want to look at good systems look to the continent — France, Germany and even Italy have systems that do so much better. Switzerland is a bit more expensive (about 13% of GDP), but it’s canton-based system functions pretty well. It’s telling how when people want to argue that the US system is good the place they turn is to the other problem-system: Great Britain. It’s like Alabama defending itself by comparing itself to Mississippi.

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