As we watch the clowns in the media and CONgress argue about health care, the real issues about affordable healthcare are being totally hidden from the discussion. Affordable health care means that the cost to deliver health care should be universal and reasonable. When we take a hard look at just that proposition, we can really see what is going on. In two words, Big Pharma. In a more concise statement, it is not only big pharma, but the influence big pharma has with the FDA, CONgress, and the major insurers and providers, some of which THEY own.
Here are some of the facts, and just the facts:
Big pharma is a $280 billion a year business in the US alone! According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs. According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years of age say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.
According to Alternet, last year, “11 of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year! Think about this and ask why many prescription drugs cost about twice as much in the United States as they do in other countries. Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe. According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
Here are some real shocking facts, according to the Los Angeles Times, drug deaths (mostly caused by prescription drugs) are climbing at an astounding rate. Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008. Deaths more than tripled among people aged 50 to 69, the Times analysis found. In terms of sheer numbers, the death toll is highest among people in their 40s.
A Government Accountability Office report discovered that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug. In fact, the report found that many states seem to be doping up foster children as a matter of course. Just check out these stunning statistics. In Texas, foster children were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications at the same time than non-foster children. In Massachusetts, they were 19 times more likely. In Michigan, the number was 15 times. It was 13 times in Oregon. And in Florida, foster children were nearly four times as likely to be given five or more psychotropic medications at the same time compared to non-foster children.
This year the American people will spend approximately 2.8 trillion dollars on health care, and it is being projected that Americans will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019. If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet. Back in 1960, an average of $147 was spent per person on health care in the United States. By 2009, that number had skyrocketed to $8,086. In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360. Approximately 60 percent of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical bills.
Is it the doctors who are driving the cost of health care? The simple answer is NO. It is about a cycle that starts with big pharma, the insurance companies driving their profits, and finally large health care provider organizations that are narrowing choices more and more each day. Just look at places like Pittsburgh PA to see what has happened when UMPC and Highmark are cornering the market on providing care. Prices are going up, and choices of doctors and facilities going down. In fact, we are facing a shortage of doctors to deliver health care services. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of at least 13,000 doctors. Unfortunately, that shortage is expected to grow to 130,000 doctors over the next 10 years.
The question becomes is CONgress even capable of doing anything to fix the problem? Doubtful. Remember when the Affordable Health Care Act was being debated? Remember the “Pocket” boys insisted that the government would be prevented from negotiating with Big Pharma on the cost of prescription drugs? Wonder why that was? Here is fact you might want to consider, the U.S. health care industry has spent more than 5 billion dollars on lobbying our politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998.
We have a choice when it comes to this debate. We can passively sit by or we can let our legislators know we are “on” to the game. Universal health can not only be a reality, it should be a right, especially at the price WE are paying for it. We could have regulatory pricing structures in place that would reduce the cost of care delivery by 40 or 50% overnight. Put another way, we could have universal care for the cost of Medicare today. Don’t buy into the argument that health care costs are going to “break” the budget because it just isn’t the truth. Get informed, speak up, and let’s get this done.