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American healthcare the most expensive on earth, yet failing at an unprecedented pace


(NaturalNews) The immense and ever-growing financial burden of healthcare in the United States today is a direct consequence of insurance company dominance over the industry, says the author of a new book on America's broken healthcare system. And the only way to fix it, she says, is to return to the way things were before -- prepaid physician groups.

Americans currently pay the highest prices for healthcare in the world, and yet the quality of services they receive is lacking and ever-dwindling. Doctors and hospitals are basically incentivised to over-examine and over-prescribe their patients in order to get the biggest reimbursements from insurance companies. These actions are both draining the system and killing its potential to provide quality care at reasonable costs.

According to Christy Ford Chapin, author of Ensuring America's Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System, patients used to pay a monthly fee directly to doctor groups that would provide care as needed to those in the pool. There were no insurance middlemen involved, and because of this doctors were incentivised to provide the best possible care at the lowest possible prices.

Unnecessary testing, unneeded surgeries, overprescription of pharmaceutical drugs and other factors common in today's model were nonexistent back then, and healthcare was thus affordable to everyone, both rich and poor. But today's system embodies the exact opposite of this, catering to insurance companies and shareholders rather than patients.

Because of efforts by the American Medical Association (AMA) to prevent the government from getting involved in healthcare during the 1940s, what would have been a medical economy centered around taxpayer-funded doctor groups was forced into becoming the insurance-centric model we see today. Doctors now have to go through insurance companies to provide coverage to patients, and the consequences have been disastrous.

"Unfortunately, the insurance company model fragmented care across numerous specialties and encouraged physicians and hospitals to practice without regard for financial resources," Chapin writes for The Conversation. "With a distant corporation footing the bill, there was little to prevent hospitals and physicians from ordering unessential tests and procedures for insured patients."

Nationalized healthcare or insurance-based healthcare? Both have major drawbacks
Nationalized healthcare often gets a bad rap as being wasteful and destructive, but in all reality insurance-based healthcare is just as bad. The quality of care is on the decline, and yet the cost of care is getting higher and higher, to where medical expenditures in the U.S. now make up 18 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).

It's an unsustainable model that's only gotten worse under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Deductibles are skyrocketing, doctors' practices are going out of business, and insurance companies are taking the reigns of actively managing and supervising physician work, something they were never supposed to do when the system was developed.

Government-controlled anything, at least in the U.S., almost never works -- just look at what's happened to the food supply, for instance, as a result of tax incentives and subsidies that encourage farmers to grow commodity crops that benefit large food corporations. And yet, if it operated in the right capacity, the government could help facilitate a return to the prepaid physician group model, which would improve the quality of care while lowering the price of care.

"Reforms based on prepaid doctor groups hold the potential for bipartisan support," Chapin says, noting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed changes to the system that lean in this direction. "With growing patient dissatisfaction and concern among physicians about insurance company dominance, prepaid groups could finally succeed."

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