This article was written by guest blogger “Financegal” via the “Open Mic” category.
Individuals who are chronically ill already have to deal with many challenges in their lives. Chronic illnesses include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A new study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in eight industrialized nations has found that chronically ill patients have a relatively greater struggle in the United States. About 138 million people in the United States have chronic conditions. 23% of Medicare recipients suffer from five or more chronic illnesses and result in over half of total Medicare expenditures.
Americans pay more for health care than individuals in other countries. Often, that health care is poorly coordinated, driving up costs for both insured and uninsured patients. In the drive to increase revenues, patient care often suffers. The Americans in the study were most likely to report errors in prescriptions and diagnostic tests, which could lead to serious negative outcomes for patients. In many cases chronically ill patients can’t even get insured at all, because insurance companies can choose not to cover individuals with preexisting conditions. Uninsured patients fare even worse in the United States.
Over half of all Americans have gone without needed health care (such as doctor visits, medications, and other treatments) due to cost. In most cases, it’s preventative care that suffers. That neglect leads to far higher costs for patients and society in the long run. In light of this study, many are calling for health care reform in the United States.