The Failure of U.S. Healthcare | Chris Kresser

The Failure of U.S. Healthcare

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The U.S. spent 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a cool $2 trillion – on health care in 2005.1 Considering this enormous expenditure, we should have the best medicine in the world. We should be reversing disease, preventing disease, and doing minimal harm. However, careful and objective review shows the opposite.

The U.S. ranks just 34th in the world in life expectancy and 29th for infant mortality. Of 13 countries in a recent comparison, the United States ranks an average of 12th (second from bottom) for 16 available health indicators.2

40 million people in this country do not have health insurance. The exorbitant cost of health care seems to be tolerated based on the assumption that better health results from more expensive care, despite studies that as many as 20% to 30% of patients receive contraindicated care.3

Even worse, a recent study by Dr. Barbara Starfield published in 2000 in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that iatrogenic incidents (events caused by medical intervention) are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country, causing more than 250,000 deaths per year. Only heart disease and cancer kill more people.

Dr. Starfield estimates that, each year, medical errors and adverse effects of the health care system are responsible for:

  • 116 million extra physician visits
  • 77 million extra prescriptions
  • 17 million emergency department visits
  • 8 million hospitalizations
  • 3 million long-term admissions
  • 199,000 additional deaths
  • $77 billion in extra costs

As grim as they are, these statistics are likely to be seriously underestimated as only about 5 to 20% of iatrogenic incidents are even recorded4, and outpatient iatrogenic statistics only include drug-related events and not surgical cases, diagnostic errors, or therapeutic mishaps5 . Other analyses which have taken these oversights into consideration estimate that medical care is in fact the leading cause of death in the U.S. each year.

Starfield believes that a major contributor to the poor performance of the United States on health indicators is the high degree of income inequality in this country. Countless studies in the medical literature document the adverse effects of low socioeconomic position on health. New research suggests the adverse effects not only of low social position but, especially, low relative social position in industrialized countries.6

Perhaps the words “health care” have given us the illusion that medicine is about health. In fact, western medicine is not a purveyor of healthcare but of disease-care.

When the number one killer in a society is the health care system, that system has no excuse except to address its own urgent shortcomings. Unfortunately, until this happens partaking in allopathic medicine itself is one of the highest causes of death as well as one of the most expensive ways to die.

  1. Park, A. America’s Health Check Up. 11/20/2008. Time Magazine Online.
  2. Starfield B. Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services, and Technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1998.
  3. Schuster M, McGlynn E, Brook R. How good is the quality of health care in the United States? Milbank Q. 1998;76:517-563
  4. Leape LL. Error in medicine. JAMA . 1994 Dec 21;272(23):1851-7.
  5. injuryboard.com. General Accounting Office study sheds light on nursing home abuse. July 17, 2003 . Available at: http://www.injuryboard.com/view.cfm/Article=3005. Accessed December 17, 2003
  6. Wilkinson R. Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality. London, England: Routledge; 1996.
  1. The U.S. / American allopathic medical system is this biggest con of the century. They don’t even promise to cure people, rather, people blindly believe that allopathy is the way to a cure.

    None of the allopathic procedures commonly prescribed are designed to heal anyone. They only extract money by causing more problems, which require more money extract with bogus “medical” procedures, which fail.

    The fact that so many American people are so ignorant, so silly, so blind, and so naive that they can’t see a whale sitting right in front of them, this is their own fault.

    Anyone who willingly goes into allopathic medical treatment is only going to get what they ask for, which is allopathic treatment, i.e. surgery, antibiotics for all, and unsafe drugs.

    After my grandma recently had a heart attack and was admitted into the allopathic medical system, it is amazing to me that people even tollerate such a shitty, corrupt, obviously failing system. It cost nearly $150,000 just for 2 weeks in the hospital. Did they keep her alive? Yes, they did. But it didn’t cost that much to do it. It could have cost around $5,000 maximum for the real value of what they did.

    She was put on a tube feeding system since she could not swallow food or water following the heart attack. Guess what kind of “nutrition” they use? A jar of GMO soy protein, milk, sugar, and artificial vitamins. What the f***???? How is this going to heal a person? She is obviously in need of NUTRITIONAL THERAPY, something allopathy knows literally nothing about. I bought her some “liquid hope”, an organic whole food, plant based nutritional shake meant for tube feeding. Why don’t they simply provide this?

    The answer is obvious: Money. The American medical system is a con to extract the maximum amount of money from the suckers and fools who believe in it and willingly walk right into their trap.

    The only real cure to any medical health issue is: INCREASE NUTRITION, DECREASE TOXICITY. This alone will cure, treat, and heal the vast majority of chronic and acute health issues.

    Clean mineral drinking water, organic whole foods, and avoiding chemical toxins. That’s all you have to do to get and stay healthy folks.

    It is very frustrating to say the least. I make a personal vow to see the end of the U.S. allopathic medical system within the next 25 years, and seeing it be replaced by homeopathy, naturopathy, and other proven effective, lost cost medical treatments.

  2. Thank you for your unbiased reporting.  Americans who depend only on “official” sources are doomed to living with chronic illnesses and a plague of toxic medical interventions.

  3. As much as i don’t like those statistics I can’t help but to believe it. Everyone is just a guinea pigs to doctors. They treat the symptoms not the problems.