• Francisco Cabreja


Special interests have cleverly steered the Healthcare conversation in the United States away from the cause of the problem which if corrected will affect their pockets. News

pundits and politicians only talk about the delivery method, Single Payer or Private Insurance, not the root cause that are the basic cost of services.

The United States spends more on health care than any other developed country in the world. We spend 17.6 of our Gross Domestic Product, while other nations that offer similar benefits, like Germany, Australia, and Switzerland spend less than 12%.

Americans spend more annually per capita on prescribed medications than any other nation. Almost $1,000.00 compared to $700.00 in Canada, $590.00 Australia, $620.00 Germany, and $580.00 in Switzerland.

Americans spend more on Hospital stays than other countries, $18,000 per case, while Canada was about $13,000; Australia, France, and Germany were less than $10,000.

What is the reason?

Prescription Drugs. Congress, Democrats, and Republicans have given Drug Companies the authority to charge more for Prescription Drugs in the U.S. yet they charge a lot less in Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere. This is what economists call "price discrimination"--that is, charging different prices to different buyers of the same product. Price discrimination works in the drug industry because drugs are very expensive to develop but

cheap to manufacture. As long as companies can recoup their research and development costs by charging high prices in the United States, they can make a profit elsewhere at the expense of the American consumer. This practice needs to be regulated and stopped immediately.

Doctor Fees. Doctors, account for almost one-fifth of health spending. After practicing for six years, the average U.S. family medicine doctor makes $200,000; the average general surgeon, $350,000; and the average urologist, $400,000. (Spinal surgeons make $625,000.) Office- and clinic-based doctors are the most likely of any job category -- except for securities and investment lawyers -- to be in the top 1 percent of earners. No other developed country pays doctors this much. In 2004, general practitioners in the U.S. were estimated to earn double -- measured by purchasing power -- the median for 21 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; for specialists, the difference was almost threefold. Those earnings reflect higher payments per service. Last year, a routine visit to a U.S. doctor cost commercial insurers $89 on average, compared with $64 in Switzerland, $40 in Germany, and $23 in France. For a normal birth in the U.S., doctors were paid an average of $3,390; in France, they got $449. For a hip replacement, American doctors’ average fee was $2,966, while in Spain it was $1,123.

Hospital Services: Hospital Service costs are out of control. Hospital prices are increasing much faster than inflation, particularly the not-for-profit. Their markups are ten times higher than what Medicare pays. The For-Profit hospitals are more honest but also practice incredibly high markups. What is the reason for these incredibly high markups? King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services Chairman, and CEO

Alan Miller made more than 51.3 million last year, according to the company’s annual proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Jeffrey Romoff, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center received $5.97 million. Delos Cosgrove, MD, Cleveland Clinic, $2.31 million. Herbert Pardes, MD, former CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York City) $4.35 million. I am all in favor of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work but this is out of control.

Frivolous Liability Lawsuits. While this issue has been controlled during the past ten years, it represents an enormously high cost to all medical practices forcing them to practice defensive medicine. This high cost is ultimately passed on to the consumer.

Sell Health Insurance across state lines. While this concept is a no-brainer, it has met the greatest resistance from Insurance companies. The reason is that it will force Insurance Companies to compete reducing prices for the American consumer.

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