Why America’s Healthcare Sucks [infographic]

May 17, 2011 |  by  |  Politics

You know it is true. According to the CDC, over 40 million Americans did not have health insurance during 2009. Obviously something has to change, but socialized medicine is not the answer. It is just one possible solution. Now that I have put myself in a political grey area, I will continue on with this topic.

Although smoking, drinking and the elderly are lower per capita in America than most European countries, it doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. With massive outpatient costs and over-paid doctors, things can really add up over here.

I’m lucky to have some very affordable healthcare offered by my university. It is hard to get a timely appointment and the doctors are only given 15 minutes with each patient, but at least the appointment is free and the medicine is discounted. Also, being able to talk to a doctor for free can help prevent much more dangerous health issues in the future.

Prevention and price transparency could both be improved in the US. Stopping a health problem early can save thousands down the road. Also, according to this infographic, “knowing where our money is going would make everything cheaper.” Opening people’s eyes to bogus processing fees and excess spending.


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  • Kurofune

     (I am a third year medical student) There is so much wrong with this infographic it’s hard to know where to start. Looking at the sources you see plenty of “theincidentaleconomist” and more of Ezra Klein. These are very left-leaning sources and are not known for impartiality of facts.

    The 2% estimation for malpractice is the biggest falsehood because it only considers one effect of malpractice. Malpractice also causes doctors to do unneeded procedures which causes a large amount of the “Truth #3: too many procedures”. The effect of obesity is also underestimated.

    A direct comparison of elderly rates isn’t sufficient because our present Medicaid system is very inefficient in handling medical care for seniors. It needs to be reformed to contain costs and the PPACA doesn’t do this. Finally, while this get’s the administrative costs and transparency correct, it doesn’t mention that higher paid doctors result from a higher standard of medicine in the US and that outpatient procedures are usually better for the patient’s health.

    • dlfan

      Don’t worry no one saw this haha.

  • David

    Truth: Your infographic is a myth and completely absurd. Check your facts and try again.

    • Guest

      Truth: Your accusation is baseless as you’ve presented no evidence to counter what is being presented.

  • B139322

    At this point, anything that bears the “medicalbillingandcoding” watermark is immediately discounted.  He/she/they need to stop these ridiculous “infographics”.  Sites also need to stop propagating their horrible disinformation.

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  • http://www.fastforwardblog.com/?author_name=pthornton rotkapchen

    I appreciate the effort that went into this and the fact that it makes us think.

    I would suggest that while there are all sorts of related reasons that will factor in, there IS a primary economic cause for all of it. Remember, you have to evaluate the systemic features of the US Healthcare system that are decidedly ‘different’ than other countries.

    The first issue is insurance…period. It serves as a consumer buffer. When healthcare is effectively ‘free’ (after the cost of insurance), people pay no attention to the costs — both consumers and doctors.

    If consumers were directly paying for all of their healthcare, you can rest assured that they would be more active in insisting that they reviewed the procedures doctors were asking for and how much they were going to cost.

    I can guarantee you that my healthcare usage has changed CONSIDERABLY since we have had no insurance for over 2 years. We avoid going to seek medical help at all costs.

  • Anonymous

     I don’t get why moving inpatient procedures outpatient would increase costs. That one makes no sense.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KEIJZCBUCEPGHZSPOPMKURCNPA Jim

    I feel like as though the creators went for more shock than substance, as anyone knows American healthcare, with all its flaws, cannot be reduced to an infographic.

  • Pjmuelle0611

    Sorry but I dug through a good chunk of these “sources” and anyone who has common sense and has dealt with the healthcare system can tell that what is stated here cannot be true. I’m not saying that there isn’t things wrong with healthcare but these are not it. I have blood work done monthly, at the hospital, it costs 500$ and at my local doctors office it costs 50$. The reason is because the hospitals time is worth more money, not that they do the blood work better, it is that they can be doing more vital care for someone esle other than me. One problem is that people, in general, very seldom deal with the healthcare system on a regular basis for serious problems, they don’t understand that you do have to literally shop around for what you need the prices change but America is too lazy to spend the time to learn this stuff, I know I would not have learned this except that I was forced to. I’ve paid out of pocket for my own healthcare and I have had jobs provide it for me as well. All I can say is I know I CANNOT AFFORD “Free” healthcare.

  • Nymets89

    I’d like to see you go through 8 years of post secondary school plus internships and residencies and say that doctors are overpaid.

    • Barbara Gwen

      I know I’m replying really late, but I just have to:

      Doctors in the U.S. ARE overpaid, and I say this with many friends who are doctors. They could get paid much less and still be wealthy. After all, doctors in the U.S. receive way more money than doctors in practically every other country (including developed, “first-world” countries), and most foreign doctors receive the same amount of education. When I was in college, I knew several students who were pre-med primarily because their goal was to be rich in the future. Call me a dreamer, but I think that the best doctors are those who actually want to help people. Unfortunately, our country’s system is set up in such a way that even middle class people cannot afford/can barely afford necessary procedures or preventative care. People have died because of this– a couple years ago, a young man in his early 20s died because he couldn’t even afford to get a couple cavities filled (he chose to pay his rent instead). And there have been countless cases of people being unable to afford their medication, resulting in more deaths. So yeah, I can’t help but thinking that maybe if doctors were paid just a little bit less, more people would be able to afford needed health care. I love this country, but our health care system sure does make me sick sometimes.

      • Mike

        The day the government controls how much money athletes, entertainers and lawyers make then it can control how much money physicians make. Also, in those other first-world countries you talk about the cost of becoming a physician is a fraction of what it is in the U.S. Not to mention they don’t have to deal with the threat of malpractice law suits.

        People not able to afford their medications has nothing to do with physicians’ incomes. Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies dictate how much medications will cost not physicians.

        The young man you mention died because he couldn’t afford to see a dentist. That is a different area of healthcare not related to physicians. What…are dentists overpaid too? I’m sure he could have gone to a dental clinic for low income people or work out a payment plan with a dentist.

        And for your and everybody else information physicians’ payment by medicare represents LESS THAN 10% of its expenses. On what does medicare spends the other 90%? Maybe you should be asking yourself that question.

      • Stewart Gruey

        Doctors in other countries are not trained as well as American doctors… They can get their MD in as little as 4 years. That is insane! They do also have to pay well over 40 thousand a year in America for education and this accrues interest while in residencies. They end up with about 250,000 in debt by the end. This includes tuition, interest and undergrad.

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  • Sean

    I take issue with your assertion that healthcare costs are driven by the fact that we don’t have government intervention to effect price controls. In a market-driven economy, competition for insurance contracts should keep hospital costs down. When the government gets involved, your point about fraud comes into play. I’d bet that 99% of health insurance fraud comes about on medicare claims, especially in Florida. So do you honestly think that the government as a payor is a more efficient system? What incentive does the government have to detect fraud, when they are playing with taxpayer money? Private insurance companies do a better job because they have skin in the game to protect. 
    Also, I disagree with your assertion that doctors are overpaid. Average medical school debt is $150,000 (plus average undergraduate debt of $20K). Those doctors who earn less in Europe have their entire medical school paid for and don’t have to shoulder this burden. On average, docs in America earn around 120K, with some primary care specialties (e.g. Pediatrics) earning much less. How would you like to go to school for 8 years, incur 170K in debt, then come out making less than 100K per year? Should doctors not expect to be able to own their own home, despite the sacrifices that they’ve made laboring in school for so long?
    Lastly, outpatient care is BY FAR cheaper than a hospital admission. That “Truth” is just completely wrong. I’m sure it’s far cheaper to treat a hernia in the U.S. than it is in the U.K. My guess is that the U.K. has to admit these people because their system simply can’t afford the large investments needed to implement the medical advances that we have made in the United States. This is the same reason that elderly ladies don’t receive new hip replacements in Great Britain- because their public payor, public deliverer system can’t afford it based on their tax basis. In another example, the U.K. has rejected new, efficacious chemotherapy regimens because they’re too expensive. So before you start decrying the healthcare system in the U.S., realize that taxpaying patients with complex diseases are far better off here than anywhere else in the world. That is why affluent patients from countries with socialized medicine often come to the US for treatment- because their countries simply can’t offer new medicine.
    Now, none of this is to say that the US system isn’t broken. I just believe that free market forces are the answer to our problems. Doctors should get paid what the market dictates for their services. See Paul Ryan’s plan for American Healthcare. I believe that it is the only sustainable option that preserves innovation while helping to bring down insurance premiums to a level that most Americans can afford through insurance company and deliverer competition.

    • Stewart Gruey

      Except America is the only free market and has these problems. People view healthcare in the US as a commodity where others view it as a service such as police or fire departments. We are also ranked far below 36 other countries in healthcare effectiveness, also have a lower life expectancy as you can see from the elderly population graph. We pay the most and get less effective care than Columbia in return.
      We are good at treating cancer, but that is all that we have compared to other countries. That is why people come over, for cancer treatments.

  • Sean

    And, in case everyone on here isn’t sick of my voice already, one more note: your assertion that America’s obesity accounts for an additional $25B in healthcare costs can not be correct, unless you are looking at healthcare costs DIRECTLY related to obesity (and even then it seems dubious). Obesity is a risk factor for MANY chronic (read: expensive) conditions including heart disease, diabetes, vascular diseases, sleep apnea, cancer, chronic low back pain…etc (you name it, obesity probably caused it), which are some of the costliest afflictions. If you included the cost of lost productivity due to these conditions, then there is no way that statistic is correct. I believe that the true costs are more in line with this article: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/2011-01-12-obesity-costs-300-bilion_N.htm

  • Sahunkyhenk4sss

    well in norway for a doctors visit you pay 40 dollars. For life important medicine 0 dollars.Children get free medical care even dentists.Education is for free too and fathers get 3 months paternal leave .America is the last place I would want to live compared with benefits from eu countries.

    • Mike

      And in those countries your income tax rate would be 50-60% of income plus sales taxes and other taxes. How much do you or would you pay in the U.S. Healthcare in those European countries is not free. It’s paid with the very high taxes their citizens have to pay.

      • Luke

        So you prefer to live in a Country where you pay for your health AND the company can decline a treatment that you need? Well its good that you get 50% more dude! You can spend that in heaven after your healthcare company declines a treatment that you need.

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  • DavidW

    Whoever wrote this infographic is poorly informed and probably shouldn’t be writing for public view. On top of that, why in the world would a medical billing and coding company put this information out – do you want to lose all of your business?

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  • Stewart Gruey

    Doctors pay in America is similar to England, I haven’t looked at other countries. The fact they make 5x the average patient is not because the doctor is paid a lot, it’s because the majority of employees are paid less than in comparison to other countries.
    Also, the author says socialized medicine isn’t the way to do it except they state how private insurance companies are the problem. Socializing medicine insurance companies out of the equation by either eliminating them such as Canada or England or by making the company do what the government wants such as Germany.

  • bcorns99

    As someone of meager income (35,000 and single) the healthcare system here raped me out of $ 75,000 for back pain that is worse now than before. I dont expect miracles, but I want treatment and good advice; I was charged $200 last month for a doctor I never saw. I left after 3 hours in the piss smelling waiting room! I am told it is legal and I have to pay it or have my credit rating ruined. I WILL NOT PAY. Take my credit rating then! The best advice in America is DONT GET SICK!!!