Are Americans Just Too Chronically Ill?

Are Americans simply too healthy to be sick than any other people in other countries in the world, or they simply have more access to a better health care system? If they are just too healthy, then why are there so many health insurance companies in the US, perhaps some of the largest health insurance companies than any other health insurance companies in the world? Or if the American people are just as sick as other people in the world, then do they just have access to a better healthcare system? What class of American people is sicker than the other; men or women, young or old?

These are some of many questions we can keep asking ourselves, and we may never have or find answers to them. On November 18, 2008, The New York Times published an article titled, The Wrong Place to Be Chronically Ill. It reports the finding of 7,500 patients surveyed in several countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States, who suffered from at least one of seven chronic conditions: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, lung problems, cancer or depression.

The article states; “the shameful findings on the patients in the United States the health care they received, that more than half of the American patients went without care because of high out-of-pocket costs. They did not visit a doctor when sick, skipped a recommended test or treatment or failed to fill a prescription. The uninsured suffered most, but even 43 percent of those who had insurance all year skipped care because of costs”.

The article further states that the surveyed American patients also were likely to report wasting time because their care was so poorly organized. About a third reported that medical records and test results were not available when needed or that tests were duplicated unnecessarily. A third experienced a medical error, such as being given the wrong medication or test results. Some 40 percent found it very difficult to get after-hours care without going to an emergency room.

Another article titled “Women Buying Health Policies Pay a Penalty”, which was published in The New York Times on October 30, 2008, reports “a widespread gap in the cost of health insurance, as women pay much more than men of the same age for individual insurance policies providing identical coverage, according to new data from insurance companies and online brokers.” The article gives an example of a Columbus, Ohio 30-year old woman pays 49 percent more than a man of the same age for Anthem’s Blue Access Economy plan. “The woman’s monthly premium is $92.87, while a man pays $62.30”. The article further states that; in general, insurers say, they charge women more than men of the same age, because claims experience shows that women use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illness.

In summary, I may agree with the second stated article, about women paying more in the cost of health insurance than men of the same age. I agree to this claim for the reason as stated above. From a man perspective, compare to my wife and daughter, my wife tends to visit a doctor for her regular checkup than me, anytime during the year. As the article states, women, so as my wife, tend to visit a doctor for her feminine health checkup, including constant checkup for signs of chronic illness such as cancer, diabetes, etc. Whilst, for me, I rarely go to the doctor.

I however, cannot generalize that all men, based on my health, for the simple reason that I may not visit my doctor as often as my wife does for the fact that I don’t really like medical places, nor do I like seeing a doctor examining me. It’s not that I am afraid of a doctor, I just don’t like having the feeling of being sick or feel like I am sick, and being in the presence of a doctor gives me that eerie feeling. The smell of medicine in hospitals makes me sicker. Thus, I only go to my doctor, when I feel that I am really sick, which is not as often as my wife’s regular checkup. I understand that I too need to have a regular doctor checkup for the same chronic illness. My daughter also gets regular doctor visit for her checkup, but unlike my male cousin of the same age, who also rarely goes to the doctor.

Thus, I definitely understand why the insurance companies may charge women more in health insurance premium than they do for men. If they would charge men more than women, then the story would be similar. The only suggestion I may propose is for all the employers to pay women wages equal to that of their male counterparts for equal work completed. Doing so would allow families to best plan, balance, and pay for their health care costs without putting a burden on the women alone.

However, I disagree with the first article for a simple reason that, statistically, the article has an error. It states that a survey of 7,500 patients from different countries was observed, but it failed to state whether that proportion was randomly selected or not. And what was the exact number of American patients were among the surveyed patients? I fail to believe that this number was an exact representation of all the American patients. Even though it generally and fairly estimates how most patients are treated in America, I feel like those who conducted this survey could have used more representative variables, such as the exact number of each patient surveyed from each country, their gender and age category.

Based on the data provided, I am not fairly convinced that America is the sickest nation, nor can I conclude that other nations as stated may have a better health care system. Also, those who have conducted the survey might have failed to state that some of the nation’s health care systems mentioned have universal health care coverage, where patients are not required to pay for health checkup and medical treatment. In countries such as Britain, France, and Canada, health care is free and open to any of their citizens. But comparatively, America may have the best health care facilities and medical doctors more than any other countries surveyed or in the world. Let us not forget to mention that life expectancy in America is almost the same or may be even high than the countries surveyed.

I however believe that the cost of health care, generally, in America is too high. Over 11 million American have no health insurance coverage, and most families are failing to pay for the cost of their hospital visits, let alone, their medicines. Hopefully the new administration would do as promised, to help bring the cost of health insurance down, not only for women, but for men and children, as well, for just about every American.

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