If there is one thing that the recent events on Wall Street have taught us, it is that our voices are strongest when we use them together.

How satisfied are we with our current healthcare system? How satisfied should we be?

In a recent Deloitte report, the American public does not seem to believe the hype that the US has the best healthcare system. From the Hill’s Healthcare Blog:

“The survey found negative attitudes at nearly every level. For example, despite lawmakers’ frequent claims that the U.S. has the best healthcare system in the world, only 24 percent of Americans view it as even among the world’s best systems.”

When you rank 37th in the world, eventually someone might start paying attention, asking questions and wondering why the US healthcare system “ain’t doing so hot”. Usually in the political arena someone says – “but we have such a unique system, international comparisons aren’t helpful.” From the New England Journal of Medicine:

“Despite the claim by many in the U.S. health policy community that international comparison is not useful because of the uniqueness of the United States, the rankings have figured prominently in many arenas. It is hard to ignore that in 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy. These facts have fueled a question now being discussed in academic circles, as well as by government and the public:Why do we spend so much to get so little?”

In some ways, it is good that the public is less and less inclined to believe that our healthcare system is the best. While we do have some of the best healthcare providers out there, the system in which they have to operate is broken, expensive and consistently fragmented.

Another telling statistic from the report:

“Most consumers do not have a strong understanding of how their health care system works. Consistently across the 12 countries surveyed, with the exception of Portugal (17 percent) and Luxembourg (16 percent), around one in three consumers felt they understood the system well. Three in four U.S. consumers (76 percent) feel they do not have a strong understanding of how the health care system works; this perception has not changed in recent years (77 percent in 2010, 74 percent in 2009).”

So not only are we dissatisfied, we often don’t understand how our healthcare system works. There are always opportunities to help educate friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and many others about healthcare. Ongoing comments from yesterdays post reminded me that this is not just about changing the system, but fundamentally about changing mindsets.

Will the community rise up and begin to demand more from their healthcare system? Only time will tell, but studies like this show that maybe the public is ready to question the healthcare “system”. Maybe it is time the for the public to occupy healthcare.

Dr. Miller has his doctorate in clinical psychology and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine where he is the Director of the Office of Integrated Healthcare Research and Policy. His core task is to integrate mental health across all three of the department’s core mission areas: clinical, education, and research. Opinions expressed here are his own and not those of his employer.

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  • http://www.drannbeckerschutte.com/ DrBeckerSchutte

    Yes, which leads me to ask, what can we do to help the public (and healthcare providers) feel less intimidated and more empowered. I think that the force of inertia is powerful, especially when people feel uninformed or overwhelmed–frequent feelings when you look at health issues. We need to find the “baby steps” to help folks take more ownership and demand better accountability for their healthcare dollars.

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