Today’s word

It’s not well-known in the United States because we don’t measure it. Medicaid beneficiaries know all about it. Insurance companies secretly admit it and a survey by the Commonwealth Fund documented it. What is it?

Waiting.

Waiting for healthcare in America. We wait. A lot.

In 2005 the Commonwealth Fund surveyed sick adults in six nations and discovered (as quoted in Business Week last year):

“…[only] 47% of U.S. patients could get a same- or next-day appointment for a medical problem, worse than every other country except Canada.

According to Consumer Reports this week emergency rooms have a problem too:

“Patients now wait about 40 percent longer before receiving care in emergency rooms than they did in 1997. And nearly a quarter of heart-attack patients wait at least 50 minutes before seeing a doctor. Those delays can not only deprive you of needed care but also increase your exposure to the germs that often breed in E.R.s, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria”

Don’t kid yourself, folks. We’ve got the best healthcare system in the world. No reason to change anything.

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2 Comments

Filed under healthcare finance

2 responses to “Today’s word

  1. donnafairy

    Speaking of waiting, did you hear about the woman who died in a NY City ER after waiting for over 24 hours for treatment? I cannot seem to figure out how to insert a hyperlink into this comment, so here is an address to CNN version of the story: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/02/waiting.room.death/index.html.

    Now this did happen at Kings County Hospital, part of the The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), “the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country,” according to the HHC website. So I suppose that some may see this as a strike against publicly funded healthcare.

    Still, it is completely appalling for something like this to happen anywhere, but to have it happen in the one of the wealthiest cities in the world takes the US healthcare system to a new level immorality.

  2. dwightinsight

    Thanks for the link. That goes beyond just the “waiting” problem. You get the impression that ER personnel–at least at that location—have gotten so used to seeing sick people laying around (on the floor!!) that they don’t think much of it. It must be brutal working in one of those overcrowded ERs.

    As for a “strike against publicly funded healthcare”, I think its actually a strike against publicly UNDERfunded healthcare. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (link below) 1/3 of people treated in ERs are uninsured and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates are declining; 87% need urgent care, but

    “Dangerous overcrowding is caused when a lack of hospital resources results in acutely ill patients being “boarded” in an emergency department, because no hospital inpatient beds are available, and ambulances must be diverted to other hospitals”

    That’s why, they say, they are “taking leadership role in building a national consensus for universal coverage”.

    http://www.acep.org/patients.aspx?id=25932

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