Why is American Health Care so bad?

Fact: The US pays more per person than any other western country for health care.


Fact: More Americans die of preventable disease than any other country


Fact: Despite spending more money on average per person than any country, 25% of the country is either un-insured or under-insured.


Fact: every other country in the modern world has a form of Universal Health care, the US joins the likes of most African nations, India and the former Soviet Republics as the only ones that do not have a form of Universal Health care.


So why are we in such bad shape, paying more, getting less and what can we do about it?

23 Answers

  • Ktcyan
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Insurance and drug companies have too much power and money. Our system is bought and paid for by corporations. 16% of GDP is what it costs our country to let us be screwed by these crooks, while other countries pay only 8% of their GDP.

  • 1 decade ago

    The absurd idea health care for profit is a the way to go.

    A few facts.

    In terms of the human development index, the United States has fallen from second place in 1990 (behind Canada) to 12th place. This decline continued through both the Clinton and Bush administrations, with the US falling to sixth in 1995, ninth in 2000, and 12th in 2005.

    In certain respects, the decline is even worse. The US is 34th in infant mortality—with a level comparable to Croatia, Estonia, Poland and Cuba. US school children perform significantly below their counterparts in countries like Canada, France, Germany and Japan, and 14 percent of the population, some 40 million people, lack basic literacy and number skills.

    Of the world’s 30 richest nations, which comprise the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States has the highest proportion of children living in poverty, 15 percent, and the most people in prison, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the whole population. With five percent of the world’s population, the US has 24 percent of the world’s prisoners.

    “Social mobility is now less fluid in the United States than in other affluent nations. Indeed, a poor child born in Germany, France, Canada or one of the Nordic countries has a better chance to join the middle class in adulthood than an American child born into similar circumstances.”

    In overall life expectancy, the United States ranks an astonishing 42nd, behind not only Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all the countries of Western Europe, but also Israel, Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica and South Korea. The US spends twice as much money per capita on health care as any of these countries, but its citizens live shorter lives.


    The reason is pretty obvious for any non free market fundementalist. In a lot of area's and certainly healthcare the for profit motive does not lead to the best results. When it benefits the whole society it's nothing but pure logic to organize products and or services together. Socialism is not about "big government", it's about people working together and understanding people should not serve the system but the system should serve us.


    Free market fundementalism stands in the way of reforms to change the American health system that is not unsucsesful in the logic of how it's set up. The goal is to make money and a lot of money is indeed being made. Most people would agree that should not be the goal of a good healthcare system but still shy away from drawing the logical conclusions or are easily persuaded by right wing demagogy about socialism.

  • 1 decade ago

    Adverse selection. When someone signs for health insurance, the health insurance company does not know how costly that policyholder will be. The rational thing for the company to do if they want to earn a profit is charge a price high enough to cover the worst case. This high price keeps out the poor and middle class unless their employer or government pay for it. Because the uninsured ration their health care excessively, many preventable disease are not prevented.

    The only solution that will work is to universalize health care. Pools of sick and healthy must be created to reduce overall costs.

  • 1 decade ago

    Most of your points can be countered by addressing the paradoxical question of "How can our healthcare be great if so many people don't have adequate healthcare & so many die of preventable disease?


    First off, those who have health care have the best health care around. Even those without healthcare have access to services most poor countries couldn't dream of.

    Secondly, America is an obese country. Most preventable diseases are caused by obesity. The poorest in our country is not poor enough to be skinny. The skinny poor in America are usually drug addicted. This has nothing to do with the health care system. It has to do with our gluttonous, lazy society.

    So, with that in mind, the people who pay for their health care get the highest quality health care.

    Those countries who have Universal Healthcare have to wait for ever or do without care. Those who are uninsured would benifit from Univerals Healthcare. Those who are currently insured would see a dramatic decrease in quality of care.

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  • mike t
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Paying more you ask. Thank the ACLU trip and fall lawyers and all the BS malpractice suits for that, don't get me wrong but there are some legitimate cases, but there are bogus ones too . You don't realize what it cost Dr.s and hospitals in malpractice insurance do you.

    The truth is there is no other country you can get the treatment you can here without waiting years to get it. When you are diagnosed with a fatal disease you are treated immediately here and don't have to wait years for bureaucrats to decide if you can have that treatment. If universal health care is so great ask the many that have flocked here to get the treatment they needed.

    More Americans die? Another bogus statistic created by the UN using bogus methods. It's simply not true.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    An unregulated healthcare market does not work. Think about this - 20 years ago you could walk into a clinic, see a doctor, have a test performed, get enough medication for the duration of your illness, and pay a reasonable bill.

    Today you make an appointment to see the doctor and another appointment to get your test performed. Then you go to a third location to pick up your medication which you'll have to refill at least once during your illness.

    The unregulated healthcare market makes its money by slowing down the diagnoses & treatment process.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It has partly to do with 'American-style' capitalism. Capitalism pervades our entire culture. We value things based on how much wealth they create, how much return on investment. For instance, despite our talk of 'family values', we don't really value children because they don't create wealth, they cost money. So we don't want to spend money on education or children's health care or other children's issues. We demonize the poor because they don't contribute to the economy, but we think the rich are heroes.

    We pride ourselves on the best health care system in the world. But what we mean by that is that our health care system produces more profit than any other in the world. Because profit is the highest priority of the health care system. In other countries, it's health care!

    Also it has partly to do with the importance of money in politics. Both parties desperately need money for campaigning. And they both get their money from the same sources, so you can't expect their agendas to be all that much different. The health insurance companies are among the biggest campaign financiers, so whoever wins elections doesn't want to do anything to hurt them or anger them.

    So even though more and more Americans favor a single payer system in poll after poll, the whole idea is off the table. Every health care plan we discuss, from either party, includes keeping the existing health insurance companies in business, strengthening and perpetuating them, subsidizing them. Again, the priority is the health of the health care companies, not the health of patients.

    And the health care companies know they can make higher profits by only caring for those who are young and healthy. So we let them get away with that. In fact the only reason we have Medicare in the first place is that the health insurance companies didn't want to have to cover the elderly or chronically ill, so we taxpayers pay for their care.

  • rrm38
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Fact: I pay $55/month for major medical/hospitalization coverage for myself and two children. I pay cash for routine care from a tax free health savings account that I contribute to. On average, I spend under $800/year out of pocket for routine care for all three of us. By taking control of my own health care, I've saved tons of money and don't spend anywhere near what the national average is.

    If you want to place blame, place it on the millions of other consumers who demanded more and more of insurance and to pay less and less out of pocket. They also go to the doctor and expect a pill for every sniffle, expecting to pay a tiny copay and have no deductible. If people would accept the responsibility of becoming more involved in their own health care and more realistic in their demands, many more Americans would have affordable health care. Then the insurance companies could afford to keep premiums lower and still cover major medical expenses.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Fact, the wait times in countries like Canada for basic procedures is so long that hundreds of thousands of them come to the USA every year.

    I refuse to let a government that cannot run the VA properly, screwed up medicaid and medicare into a fraudsters dream control all health care.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think we can sum up the reason in one short finding by a recent Harvard study--31 cents of every dollar paid to private insurers goes to administrative costs.

    Administrative costs in national plans are usually more like 4-6%.

    Another way to say the same thing is that the primary allegiance of private insurers is to their shareholders rather than to their policyholders.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is too expensive to be accessible. I largely blame HMO's. You pay a huge premium for insurance, then they refuse to cover claims. So people either don't get treated, or they get treated too late & it costs more, or they have to pay out of pocket. And millions can't afford the excessive insurance premiums to begin with. They've bloated the market in order to line their pockets, and they make a fortune. In the meantime, we pay a lot but don't get much for it.

    That money isn't going to actual healthcare, it's going to Aetna, Kaiser, Blue Cross, etc.

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