Friday, May 29, 2009

Health Care in America

This week's New Yorker Magazine has a great article on the rising costs of health care in the United States... it's a long read, but a good one. Physician and writer Atul Gawande rips open the dirty secret of (some) doctors over-prescribing procedures in order to make a profit. It is a fascinating read about how the bottom-line can alter the quantity, but not quality, of medical procedures you may be prescribed. Here's a great quote (from a conversation with some doctors in McAllen, Texas, the most expensive place to get health-care in the country):

I gave the doctors around the table a scenario. A forty-year-old woman comes in with chest pain after a fight with her husband. An EKG is normal. The chest pain goes away. She has no family history of heart disease. What did McAllen doctors do fifteen years ago?

Send her home, they said. Maybe get a stress test to confirm that there’s no issue, but even that might be overkill.

And today? Today, the cardiologist said, she would get a stress test, an echocardiogram, a mobile Holter monitor, and maybe even a cardiac catheterization.

“Oh, she’s definitely getting a cath,” the internist said, laughing grimly.

Here's another great snippet - about preventative care in high-cost areas:
To make matters worse, [researchers] found that patients in high-cost areas were actually less likely to receive low-cost preventive services, such as flu and pneumonia vaccines, faced longer waits at doctor and emergency-room visits, and were less likely to have a primary-care physician. They got more of the stuff that cost more, but not more of what they needed.
The article doesn't turn all docs into bad-guys, no worries. But it certainly points the finger at doctors who are watching their personal bank accounts more than their patients' and the country's. It's really worth a read.


  1. I think everyone should know that fact about the doctors by now. As it relates to Psoriatic arthritis, when I was in Alaska, I visited a small Eskimo village called Alaknak. The birch trees there are more like bushes due to the extreme cold and produce a leaf bud that make an excellent medicine for any arthritis. I took about 5 pounds of the buds home and brewed them as I needed them. There are many natural remedies out there that the doctors scoff at but they don't make money telling you use birch buds for your pain. If Psoriasis is a problem, then best thing I have found is a $4 bar of soap some guy in the Ozarks makes. Though they are not a cure, they sure stop the itching and scaling. Again, you won't find a dermatologist prescribing a $4 soap that lasts 2 months helping you with acne and PSO. My friend nurse was paying over 100 bucks for a tube of cream and anti-botic for her daughter acne. Thats more like what a dermatologist would do for you. Here is a link to that guy's website:

  2. Thank you for this comment! I love hearing about alternatives...