Medical profession needs overhaul

Charlie Warner

Argus News Editor

Recently I read that more money per person is spent on health care in the USA than in any other nation in the world. We Americans spend more on healthcare than any other county in the United Nations except for East Timor.

According to the article, the USA has the third highest public healthcare expenditure per capita, because of the high cost of medical care in the country.

We Americans pay twice as much for healthcare, but our success rate is far behind other industrialized nations as far as infant mortality and life expectancy are concerned. It’s hard to believe, but the United states has a higher infant mortality rate than most of the world’s industrialized nations.

Life expectancy at birth in the USA is 50th in the world, below most developed nations and some developing nations. It is below the average life expectancy for the European Union.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).

The Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among similar countries, and notes U.S. care costs the most.

Why are we spending more money for healthcare and receiving so little? For more than 200 years, the United States has  been the leader of the world in almost every category. We are supposed to have the best universities, medical schools and research facilities.

So why are we lagging so far behind the rest of the industrialized world?

I feel it’s because we don’t have enough doctors.

The old rule of supply and demand certainly comes into play. If twice as many young students enrolled in medical schools each year, we would have twice as many doctors. I feel this would force the healthcare industry to cut their rates for services rendered and people wouldn’t be paying an arm and a leg for medical insurance.

I bring this up, not just because I feel it is ludicrous that we Americans are forced to spend so much money for health insurance and then have deductibles and co-pays piled on top of that. I also bring this very maddening situation up because of what happened to a family member.

A family member was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in his urinary tract right after Thanksgiving. The tumor was medium in size and tests confirmed that the cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes.

A specialist, located in Los Angeles was recommended to handle the surgical procedure. The problem was the surgeon was going to be on an extended vacation and couldn’t schedule the surgery until mid-January.

This meant the person with the rare cancer had to spend the next seven weeks waiting for the surgery. You can about imagine what the Christmas holiday season must have been like for this man and his wife.

By the time the third week in January rolled around and they traveled to LA to see the specialist, the tumor had grown so large that it could not be operated on.

And the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

This man, in his early 60s, and his wife were devastated. He was sent home and told that massive doses of chemo and radiation were the only things he could do and they needed to get this scheduled ASAP.

When he went to schedule the treatments, to his disbelief this family member was told it would be at least two more weeks before a specialist could see him and line up the treatments.

His wife went nuts. She told the nurse that was unacceptable and made such a scene in the office that the staff relented and was able to “find” an opening for the very next day.

Instead of having the surgery six weeks earlier when the tumor was still operable, and having chemo and radiation treatments before the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, my relative’s chances of survival are now much less.

It’s a shame there wasn’t another specialist available.

Maybe if there were more doctors available in the United States, things like this wouldn’t be happening.