it’s time for a full-scale education campaign about health care and health costs

March 18, 2013

in health care,health care reform


a few weeks ago time magazine ran a 36-page, 25,000-word cover article called bitter pill: why medical bills are killing us. this thorough look into our health care system and its fault lines has been so successful, it’s about to become time’s best-selling cover issue in two years.

now, time has come out with an infographic for those who can’t grapple with a long-form read. while the infographic obviously doesn’t have the depth of the cover article, it does paint a similarly depressing picture. and one that, frankly, too many are still unaware of.

another study out in january should have captured our attention. the study, commissioned by the national institutes of health and carried out by the national research council and the institute of medicine, found that american men rank last in life expectancy among 17 countries. american women rank 16—next to last. not only is our life expectancy dead last, financial prosperity conveys no health advantage.

in the report brief, the institute of medicine writes:

“Little is likely to happen until the American public is informed about this issue. Americans may know about some deficiencies in the U.S. health care system, but most might be surprised to learn that they and their children are, on average, in worse health than people in other high-income countries. Greater public knowledge may require an organized media and outreach campaign to raise awareness about the U.S. health disadvantage.”

kudos to time for playing a part in this currently ad-hoc outreach campaign. it’s up to employers, providers, insurers and all those involved in the system to work together to educate the public about the current state, choices, trade-offs, etc., and to iterate solutions.

journalists can do a magnificent job shedding light on what’s wrong. it takes many other parties to fix it.


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