Can we as a nation become number one again in health care? We sure can do better. We spend more on health care than any other nation and our rankings are poor in every category. How can this be?
Lets be clear. Better health does not depend on better health care. Often when we need the care, it comes too late, the quality is too poor, or we don’t get it at all. Ignoring the poor Americans insures that our health care cannot improve.
Among other countries, our life expectancy is 46th from birth.
We are 42nd in infant mortality. We spend heavily for the National Institute of Health and ignore comparisons among nations. True we are ethnically heterogeneous unlike countries like Japan and Switzerland who are at the top of the rankings.
Forty percent of our deaths are due to obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity. We must change the behavior of our citizens.
Environmental factors play a role. Polluted air and water, dangerous neighborhoods, lack of physical activity outlets, lead paint toxicity all compromise our health.
We spend over 2 trillion dollars annually on health care. It accounts for 16% of each dollar you take home. Few countries ever approach even 10%.
Despite everything, our nation has never been healthier. Much of this is due to stop smoking controls, reduced homicide and car accidents, and fluoridation of our waters, vaccines, and heart drugs.
We have all the tools to control obesity and smoking and must act vigorously.
As a doctor, I feel we must become advocates for population health. It resonates with our deep professional values and is the reason most of us chose medicine as a profession.
We take a lot of pride in being #1 in wealth, number of Nobel Prizes, and our military strength. Can we become number one in health? It’s all up to you!
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