I guess I could’ve done this myself, but thanks to Kaiser for doing it. I’m starting to think, as our title states, that pretty much everyone should see this graph. It affects how people understand health care, health policy, the uninsured, Medicare, Medicaid, everything.
Okay, I know it’s just a bar graph, but read it. Seriously. I’ll wait.
You’re not reading.
Okay fine. Look at that. The 5% sickest people in our country make up HALF of our costs. The HALF of us that are the healthiest make up 3.4% of our costs. And the sickest people aren’t generally people that you see and think “Wow, they look ill.” They’re 10 times sicker. They’re people that spend months–MONTHS–in an ICU. They get admitted for something serious, and then they get a hospital infection. Or they have something else bad happen to them. They’re incredibly, incredibly sick. They’re on 20+ medications. They’re probably at least 50, if not 60, 70, 80, or 90. They probably have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.
So see? When all the Talking Heads talk about “Health Savings Accounts” and being in control of your health care dollars, they’re focusing on a leaking faucet when there’s a Niagara Falls right next door.
It has to make one question how we’re spending our healthcare dollars. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Instead of providing preventive care and basic primary care to people, we wait until they get so very sick that they end up in the Intensive Care Unit, on 20 drugs.
Instead of making sure they’re managing their diabetes (or preventing them from getting diabetes in the first place), we let them get sick.
And once they’re so sick that they’ll likely never recover, we can keep them alive almost indefinitely, with no quality to their lives, just so we can hope and pray that they’ll recover… instead of keeping them healthy.
Is this not quite possibly the worst way to run a health care system, or is it just me?
(Big thanks to Ezra Klein for pointing me to this.)