Today’s post isn’t just about women’s health – but health care in general in the US. Most of us are familiar with some of the problems with the health care system in the United States. One of the big problems is the number of people without health insurance – 46 million people! Around 13 million women of reproductive age and about 13% of pregnant women have no health insurance.
Today a group of 10 American professional medical associations released what they are calling ‘Principles for the Reform of the U. S. Health Care System’. The 10 groups responsible are:
- American Medical Association
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons
- American College of Cardiology
- American College of Emergency Physicians
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American College of Physicians
- American College of Surgeons
- American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians
- American Osteopathic Association
They released 11 of these ‘principles’ – they are:
1. Health care coverage for all is needed to ensure quality of care and to improve the health status of Americans.
2. The health care system in the U.S. must provide appropriate health care to all people within the U.S. borders, without unreasonable financial barriers to care.
3. Individuals and families must have catastrophic health coverage to provide protection from financial ruin.
4. Improvement of health care quality and safety must be the goal of all health interventions, so that we can assure optimal outcomes for the resources expended.
5. In reforming the health care system, we as a society must respect the ethical imperative of providing health care to individuals, responsible stewardship of community resources, and the importance of personal health responsibility.
6. Access to and financing for appropriate health services must be a shared public/private cooperative effort, and a system which will allow individuals/employers to purchase additional services or insurance.
7. Cost management by all stakeholders, consistent with achieving quality health care, is critical to attaining a workable, affordable and sustainable health care system.
8. Less complicated administrative systems are essential to reduce costs, create a more efficient health care system, and maximize funding for health care services.
9. Sufficient funds must be available for research (basic, clinical, translational and health services), medical education, and comprehensive health information technology infrastructure and implementation.
10. Sufficient funds must be available for public health and other essential medical services to include, but not be limited to, preventive services, trauma care and mental health services.
11. Comprehensive medical liability reform is essential to ensure access to quality health care.
The majority of these ‘principles’ seem to be about making sure everyone has some sort of health coverage – which is of course important – but our health care system has many more additional problems too.
I thought they also seemed a bit vague. I guess these type of documents serve more of a purpose to make a statement than to give a specific list of items to implement.
Item 8 ‘Less complicated administrative systems … ‘ is certainly a good point. Just recently I became aware of a particular issue that complicates health care and increases costs. It is specifically a Medicare issue, but still relevant to this discussion. My mom went in to her physical and brought a spot on her face to the attention of her doctor (nevermind that he didn’t notice it himself). He concluded that it was a spot of skin cancer and said that he could freeze if off in his office. But – he couldn’t do it that day. Medicare will only allow each office visit one purpose or reason for being there apparently. So she had to re-schedule for another day. Can you get any more inefficient? Not to mention that many elderly people have to make special arrangements for transportation, etc. so it isn’t so easy for them to make multiple trips to the doctor.
Item 5 mentions and ‘the importance of personal health responsibility’, and number 10 ‘Sufficient funds must be available for … preventive services’. This is one of my big issues with the health care system. Two of the most important things people can do to keep themselves healthy is to eat right and exercise. Have you ever tried to talk to a doctor about either of these? I just get met with blank stares. Sure, they might mention something about not getting overweight, reducing sodium, fat, etc. or tell you, yes regular exercise is a good idea. But ask any details or how to go about improving your diet or designing an execise plan and they are pretty clueless.
One could argue that it is not a doctor’s job to be experts on these topics and they may be correct but then we need some reasonable avenue for getting this kind of information. People need to be empowered with the knowledge they need to keep themselves healthy. So much of what is out there – on TV, radio, magazines, etc., – especially regarding nutrition – is not very complete as its best – outright dangerous at its worst.
People need professionals – real professionals – to learn more about how to keep ourselves healthy. And insurance companies need to provide coverage for this kind of preventive care.
‘Personal health responsibility’ is important, but we need access to real knowledge and professionals to be able to take real responsibility for our health.
And don’t get me started on taxpayers not having access to the research that we pay for – science and medical journals – I could go on about that for quite a while but I’ll keep my mouth shut for now on that.
Will the release of these ‘principles’ really make a difference? Will our new Congress really do anything different? Only time will tell.
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