Why is the American Health Care System Broken?

COMMENTARY The Institute of Medicine issued a lengthy report, “Best Care at Lower Cost,” on Thursday. In addition to offering potential solutions to the problems in American health care, the IOM spells out what many of us have known for years: Health care, as it currently delivered, is a broken system.

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Even though there are things you know without anyone having to tell you, namely the current state of health care, having the information quantified by a non-biased, non-political source is reassuring. As the AP reported, the IOM determined that the monstrous health care system in the United States wastes $750 billion annually. That figure translates into 30 cents of every health care dollar spent being wasted.

The blame for the broken system can’t be placed on any one person’s or entity’s shoulders. That’s OK, because there is plenty of blame to go around. People in the know, and in positions to make a difference, have failed to see the big picture, preferring to “solve” the situation with knee-jerk reactions or by focusing on a too narrow scope.

Putting things into perspective, the AP relates that the $750 billion-a-year waste figure represents more than the Pentagon’s annual budget and enough money to cover the costs of uninsured Americans. The figure also represents more than a decade of Medicare costs reductions as part of the new health care law.

It’s time to stop letting elected officials and those seeking to be elected determine what the important issues are to everyday Americans. Someone must take the bull by the horns and mandate the changes necessary to fix the broken health care system while at the same time trimming the egregiously wasted money. The IOM says that these two changes can be achieved simultaneously and even while doing so, health care and its outcomes will improve.

That’s what we really want, isn’t it? To get the best bang for our buck and quality health care. It wouldn’t hurt that by repairing the system and paring the waste, the nation would also be tackling the deficit.

Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of “The Red Man” state. With what he hopes is an everyman’s view of life’s concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.

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