Other wealthy countries have health care systems that cost half or less per capita than ours here in the United States. These systems also deliver the equivalent or better outcomes for patients on just about any health statistic you care to name. Perhaps not for much longer. Some hospitals – including Duke University – are rushing to establish high-profit centers – like cancer treatment centers – in wealthy countries outside the US. Today reports are that the University of Pittsburgh is partnering with GE Healthcare to run 25 cancer centers in other countries over the next decade. Two issues:
First, isn’t it enough that we’ve screwed up our own health system so badly? Do we really have to export our high-profit-margin, mahogany-encrusted cancer and sports med centers to other countries who already enjoy much higher health standards than we do? I guess the attraction is we’ll make more profits overseas and bring them back here to fund our overcrowded ERs and OB wards – but does the rest of the world deserve to be on the hook to fund our mistakes here at home?
Second, even if you don’t care what happens to all those superior folks in other countries who always remind us how much better they have it health-wise, aren’t you concerned at what our health system has come to? I don’t really fault the hospitals in this. We are simply at a point where profit is just about all that’s driving health care in this country and hospitals, trying to fund services like internal medicine, emergency rooms, and psychiatry (where tons more uninsured patients show up) are grasping at just about any straw to try and keep those all-important profits up. We need to make the ER, primary care, psychiatry, etc be areas where hospitals make enough to stay in business and that means major health reform right here at home.
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