The Quality of U.S. Health Care, Part One

Let’s talk quality. Specifically, let’s examine the quality of care that is provided through the U.S. health care system. We have already determined that paying for health care is very expensive in the U.S., but are we at least getting the best health care that money can buy? Can you spend too much on health? If you can how do you determine where that line lies? One can easily argue that as long as we are getting the highest quality for our very expensive care then we should not worry about the overall costs. A slight modification to this argument is the idea of value. I want to see a health care system that produces good results for every dollar put into it. I want value.

All you Wal-Mart shoppers out there are you with me?

We know the costs. Let’s now look at the other side of the value equation, quality. Quality is inherently a subjective term especially when it comes to something as personal and individual as health care. One person might define quality as effectiveness. Another person might just want to be cared for (a more personal outlook). Another might hold timeliness or the lack of unneeded aggravation high (easy access to their doctors). Some might say safety is primary. Some might say it is the combination of all of these things and probably more. The point is that it is personal, and therefore, quality measures will be lacking. Quality is often evaluated through bulky statistics such as mortality rates and life expectancies. Surveys have been done to determine people’s satisfaction with the care they receive. Cross-country comparisons and formulas have been created to rank health care systems. No one indicator fully captures quality, but hopefully, by examining quality from several different angles we can get a handle on things.

Over the next few post I will discuss many of these studies, surveys, rankings, and maybe a surprise or two, but right now I want to hear from you – an informal survey.

Are you happy with the health care you receive?

How would you grade the quality of health care provided in the U.S.?

For you what factors create quality health care?


One response to “The Quality of U.S. Health Care, Part One

  1. My mind only allows me to think in terms of Ira’s health care. Because we’ve been inundated in the system via Ira, that’s how I think. So I’ll answer from that perspective. Is that okay?

    Am I happy with the health care Ira received? Absolutely. Without a doubt. Okay, so there are some frustrations (communication b/w docs and insurance hoops to jump through) but overall, his care has been great. Best doctors, incredible nurses, best technology. The list goes on.

    How would I grade the quality of health care in the US? That’s hard. My perspective is limited. I only know my immediate situation. The same doctors, nurses and technology that served Ira, served families that were richer than us and families poorer than us. But I’m guessing that the answer to this question is that the quality deserves a failing grade?

    The factors that create quality health care are doctors who know what they are doing (well trained) and can communicate what they are doing. I want the most recent technology in place. And I want the system to be easier. I managed the system only because I had a partner (wife). Single parents, well, I can’t even imagine.

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