Friday, February 22, 2013

Affordable and Quality Health Care in the U.S.: Is it Possible?

This week’s assignment was to watch a documentary called US Health Care: The Good News. The documentary highlighted the problems within the U.S. Health Care System. Despite the United States being the richest and most industrialized country, it still has not provided health care for all of its citizens like other countries. The documentary focused on the Dartmouth Atlas Project that sought to provide examples in various towns and places in the U.S. like Seattle and Colorado that adapted practices within the medical system that developed affordable and quality health care by using innovative techniques. They found what worked in each of the towns and believed that these places ultimately could be models for the U.S. Health Care System.
I believe access to health care should be a right because everyone’s health is essential. In the country where you live I think it is a community duty to provide health care to everyone in that community. I do agree that, yes, people should be responsible for their own health, but also that others should play a role in the health of those people who are not qualified or as well versed and can’t provide that care for themselves. It just seems wrong to neglect or deny others health care just because they are poor or have some other inconvenience, especially because they may actually need it the most. I just believe there should be some type of balance within the system that lowers prices so that everyone has the same opportunity for quality health care.
During the video, a variety of towns were visited where the health care in those towns were not only affordable, but quality. Grand Junction, Colorado was revered as a model for the U.S. Health Care System. The town was one where it had 100,000 of the lowest medical cost in the United States. I thought it was really interesting how some of the doctors’ pay would be withheld until the end of the year and depending on whether they performed well would determine if they received a portion or all of that pay back. It takes some really dedicated doctors and self-responsibility to be able to limit one’s personal gain for the betterment of others. In addition to this, in Seattle, Washington, it was interesting how the hospital was consumer owned. They were very innovative in using electronic records instead of files which allowed patients to have more access to their own medical records. In the town of Everett, Washington, they began to use generic drugs to help cut down on overall costs. That was very important because these drugs basically contained the same ingredients. Lastly, in Hitchcock, Dartmouth, it was really innovative to allow the patients to be a part of their treatment choices because, after all, they will be the ones having to live with the surgeries and medications they undergo.
The medical care models in the video could be duplicated in my neighborhood and town. I just think there just needs to be the right people to initiate it and then diligent, dedicated physicians to follow through with it. There are many reasons why it has not happened yet. Perhaps physicians may want to continue earning the pay that they currently make and don’t want to see a dive. In addition to that, there just needs to be cooperation from all aspects. Getting many people to agree can be highly difficult because everyone has different motives and agendas, personal or otherwise. 


  1. The unifying theme amongst these doctors is there decision to do what is better for the patient instead of themselves. Maintaining a healthcare system like the ones mentioned in Frontline requires diligent doctors who all are willing to sacrifice for the better of the community. It also involves lots of business savvy moves and collaboration between many different workers ranging from physicians and nurses to insurers and policymakers for such a thing to occur. Switching to electronic records takes time as many paper records have to be inputted and training doctors to use electronic requires even more time. All in all, a nice post and nice to see how some healthcare systems working.

  2. I thought you wrote a very nice blog. I appreciated that you picked up on the importance of the common dedication from all the doctors, and that without that dedication, there would be no possibility of this occurring. I agree that the most interesting aspect of Grand Junction was the way that they controlled quality from their doctors. You could have brought up a more legislative based argument for why you believed healthcare should be an universal right. Not that what you said wasn't lovely, and in my person opinion correct, but it's hard to convince all of America of that fact.

  3. Thanks for your post.

    i would make the argument that good, population based medicine is good business. Furthermore, I believe a patient centered practice that meets the needs and goals of patients will be, ultimately, very profitable. The goal is to be able to reward practices for efficiently providing quality care.

    Just a quick clarification with regard to the Dartmouth Atlas. The Dartmouth group sought to understand and quantify the differences in health care utilization and cost from one region to another. The Dartmouth Atlas is not the individual projects discussed in the documentary, but rather the initial study that motivated the various groups to try and address the causes that lead to high cost, noneffective care.

    Excellent thanks again for your post.