There are only 5 developed nations that have worse life expectancy than the United States, and those nations all spend 8 percent or less of their GDP on health care. This comes from Jeff Rosenberg’s analysis of the OECD’s data on health care spending (see the graph on the left-the United States is the red dot). Nations that spend more on health care should see better results than those that spend less. We spend way more on health care then any other developed nation, but we see worse results.
How are we spending so much on health care without the expected results? Many Americans simply don’t have access to the care that they need, which is definitely the case for some people in Minnesota. This forces these people to try and tough it out until they are too sick and need to go to the emergency room.
Sometimes I think we get lost in the numbers, so here is a story about what our current health care system is failing to do in Minnesota. MinnPost reported on Monday that uninsured children will now have access to dental services thanks to a 40-foot mobile dental vehicle. They will now be able to access the kind of care that will hopefully prevent them from needing major, expensive dental work in the future.
The 40-foot vehicle has two dental stations for hygiene and restorative work, and a reception station. It will provide exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, X-rays, fillings and extractions, along with dental education.
It will travel to schools, churches, public health and community centers in the 13-county metro area, to serve children who would otherwise receive limited or no dental care.
These kids can only see a dentist when the vehicle stops in their area. This is simply unacceptable, and is one more sign our health care system isn’t working. We spend tons of money on health care, and these Minnesotans kids can’t even go to the dentist.
Many more Minnesotans are applying for the state’s insurance plan, MinnesotaCare, in the hopes of having some coverage. The number of applicants for MinnesotaCare has increased by 25 percent so far this year, according to the Star Tribune. Because of the weak economy, employers have been forced to drop coverage or shift costs onto their employees. Because so many people have applied, the department has even hired more workers.
Our health care system is broken. We should not be spending nearly 16 percent of our GDP for a health system that doesn’t provide high quality results and care. Children should not have to wait for a mobile dentist’s office to come to their county to get their teeth cleaned. What we need is a health care system that guarantees quality, affordable health care system for all Americans. Sign this Health Care for America Now petition to voice your support for health care reform.
Photo Credit: MN Publius