Where in health am I? : Home > Health Cloud > Business of Health > Insurance


When your child gets sick, you don't go shopping for the best bargain - Barack Obama


image by: Quinn Dombrowski

The rest of the world has it pretty easy when it comes to health insurance because most countries have single payer plans.

However when it comes to the United States, it is complicated, frustrating and comes in more forms, varieties, plans, and prices than any one of us can figure out on our own. Which do you choose? ObamaCare, PPO, HMO, HSAs, Critical Illness, Long Term, Disability, Vision, Dental...

Many people believe that the U.S. health care system is “sick” and needs resuscitation. But, doesn’t the United States deliver some of the best medical care in the world? And for heaven’s sake why would even Canadians cross the border for medical care when they already have a system envied by many?

So, why Obamacare?

Too many people are uninsured

In a 2009 survey of 29 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, basic health insurance coverage, “measured by the population covered, services included and the degree of cost-sharing – is substantial and fairly similar across OECD countries” except Mexico, Turkey and the U.S. where a large proportion of the population was not covered in 2009.

According to 2010 CDC statistics 18.2% of Americans, equivalent to 48.2 million people were without health insurance coverage. And as of 2012 it’s over 50 million. “In terms of ethnicity, 30.4% of Hispanics, 17% of blacks, and 9.9% of whites do not have health insurance".

The System is way too complex

Whereas most developed countries have settled on one main health care system for their population, Reid, author of ‘The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care’, explains that the U.S. has elements of all 4 models in a “fragmented national health care apparatus.” “All the other countries have settled on one model for everybody. This is much simpler than the U.S. system; it's fairer and cheaper, too.”

“When it comes to treating veterans, we're Britain or Cuba. For Americans over the age of 65 on Medicare, we're Canada. For working Americans who get insurance on the job, we're Germany. For the 15% of the population who have no health insurance, the United States is Cambodia or Burkina Faso or rural India, with access to a doctor available if you can pay the bill out-of-pocket at the time of treatment or if you're sick enough to be admitted to the emergency ward at the public hospital".

Poorer outcomes

The U.S. currently has expenditures that cost twice as much, but with poorer outcomes when compared to other developed countries. Besides the usual statistics that the U.S. lags in the areas of infant mortality and life expectancy, have you heard of the following?

In 2011 a study by SAVE THE CHILDREN ranked the U.S. 31st out of 164 countries in the Motherhood Health Index, one of the lowest among developed countries, because it had the highest lifetime risk of maternal mortality among the industrialized countries.

A 2009 survey by the Commonwealth Fund revealed that despite spending the most for healthcare, the U.S. lags behind in terms of access to care, the use of financial incentives to improve the quality of care, and the use of health information technology and adoption of other innovations.

Obamacare is not the first attempt to try the reform the U.S. health care system and won’t be the last. It is the first major piece of U.S. health care reform legislation in decades.

The goals of the Obamacare reforms are quite noble namely; insurance coverage of every American, more transparency, cost efficiency and better outcomes. But, with its shortcomings Obamacare is far from the perfect solution to the U.S.’ long-ailing health care system, especially the punitive means that will be utilized to ensure health insurance coverage for everybody. It may unfortunately have the opposite effect...ensuring that millions of Americans will remain uninsured!

Then again, the solution is clear and it's next door, Canada. In fact, Tommy Douglas, the founder of Canada’s national health plan and one of Canada's most recognized heroes got his idea from guess who? someone next door - the United States.

In the meantime, Health WorldNet has attempted to break down the vast world of insurance into manageable pieces that are easy to digest so you can make informed, educated decisions. We hope! But wouldn't you rather have a single payer plan like the rest of the world.