In The News: Blog
US Healthcare and Prostate Cancer Survivors
When The Prostate Net, which intergrates prostate cancer survivors with medical experts, inaugurated the “In The Know Awards” in 2005, we envisioned the fight against health disparities in high-risk, minority and medically underserved communities. However, changes in the spectrum of health care in America have caused us to begin to re-think the impact of disparity.
The U.S. spent over $1.6 trillion on healthcare, roughly 15% of our total Gross Domestic Product, yet we have over 47 million Americans without insurance coverage. We spend 40% more per capita than other developed nations, yet we are the only one that doesn’t offer a basic health benefits package to its citizens. We spent 1/7 of our nation’s productivity and we see corporations reducing retiree health benefits, increasing the active employee’s share of health care costs, yet we still are non-competitive in the global marketplace due to the cost of domestic healthcare. Despite the amount being spent on healthcare, the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. at 37th place in health system performance versus France and Italy who ranked #1 and #2 respectively.
Government “protectionism” has given oversight, if not exacerbation, to the demise of jobs and industries through programs such as NAFTA and the elimination of Fair Trade Agreements. We stand at a point wherein our health insurance system creates a level of non-competitiveness in global markets. We stand at a point where specialization in healthcare delivery is causing a decline in primary care physicians when many of the major disease conditions facing our society need to be addressed at a prevention level best served by that primary care doctor. We have a healthcare compensation structure that rewards performance in clinical management of illness versus prevention of disease onset.
The future doesn’t hold a great deal of promise either because our “Baby Boom” generation is moving into the age range wherein most critical and chronic diseases are diagnosed. Exacerbating this situation is the fact that we are projecting a continuing shortage of nurses all the while we’re moving into the time frame when health care costs are their highest and nurse practitioners could be utilized to provide a degree of primary care and preventive services. The W.H.O. again projects that by 2020 we will still be 10% lower than the global average per 100,000 for health service professionals.
Today we spend more than $37 Billion annually to provide healthcare to the uninsured through governmental and private indigent care programs - a safety net that is rapidly evaporating with medical establishment guidelines based on pay-for-performance. The reality of life in America is that our healthcare costs will rise as we age; but that fact is further impacted based on the anticipated increase in the number of years we will have to work - by 2014 more than 20% of our labor force will be actively employed past the age of 55.
Since 1944 our Presidents have promised a reform in healthcare, the promise of an unbridled future for our children, the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. The Status Quo is not working for the masses of consumers, nor is it economically sustainable even if it were. It is imperative that multi-tangential approaches be used to change the system to insure equitable access to care and economic stability within our society. It is the best of times and the worst of times; but, for our present and our future, it must become changing times.
Virgil H. Simons
Founder & President
The Prostate Net, Inc.