A 2020 study from USA Today revealed that only about seven percent of Americans are satisfied with the healthcare system, and this perception hasn’t changed much in the last 25-30 years. However, there have been efforts to improve healthcare in the last decade. Even with these efforts, there are still issues within the healthcare industry in the U.S. Here are six of them.
#1: Difficulty Finding a Physician
For most Americans, if they haven’t already found a primary care physician (PCP), it can be hard to receive quality healthcare— and this is due to the inability to find a good physician resulting from a lack of accessible and accurate information on physician credentials. Most people rely on online reviews of physicians, but these reviews tend to focus on how the staff treats them and not on a physician’s skill level in treating a certain condition. This results in many people not getting the best quality care that they require.
#2: High Costs of Healthcare
It’s no secret that healthcare in the U.S. is expensive, with healthcare prices increasing annually. Just in 2021, the U.S. spent over four trillion dollars on healthcare. This is also closely connected to another issue in U.S. healthcare, and that is a lack of insurance coverage. Not only are many Americans uninsured, but those who are insured may not have insurance that covers everything they may need.
Factors that contribute to rising costs include:
- Wasteful systems
- Profit-driven healthcare centers
- Increasing drug costs
- Health-related pricing
- Doctor salaries
Keep in mind that insurance companies aren’t required to cover elective and cosmetic surgeries unless they’re needed for a medical reason.
#3: Lack of Transparency
A lack of transparency may be one of the biggest, yet least discussed, disruptions in the healthcare industry, and it affects virtually every area of healthcare. Unfortunately, fraud is very common in this industry, particularly when it comes to insurance providers. Improving the relationship between consumers and insurance companies can help increase transparency, which can also impact other areas of healthcare.
#4: Nursing and Physician Shortage
Another clear issue within the healthcare industry in the U.S. is the lack of nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals, which was a long-standing problem only highlighted by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This also plays a major role in the difficulty of finding a good physician. It’s estimated that the U.S. will see a shortage of nearly 140,000 primary and specialty care physicians in the next decade. On the other hand, this is good news for up-and-coming physicians because that means the job outlook will be in their favor.
#5: Preventable Medical Mistakes
Medical errors are still pretty common in the U.S., and these mistakes are almost always preventable and can seriously harm or even kill patients. When a medical professional/institution is responsible for a medical error, this is known as medical malpractice. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Surgical errors
- Negligent treatment
- Medication errors
- Emergency room mistakes
- Diagnostic errors
- Birth injuries
Medical malpractice lawyers can help victims of malpractice get the compensation they deserve— as long as the victim (or their family) is within the statute of limitation according to their state. For example, the statute of limitation for medical malpractice in the state of Illinois is two years after the discovery of malpractice.
#6: Recalls on Medical Devices
Not only are physicians and other medical professionals making mistakes when it comes to their patients, but manufacturers of medical devices have also made mistakes that could be harmful to the consumers who use them. Examples of more recent defective medical devices include:
- Transvaginal mesh
- Surgical staplers
- Intrauterine devices
- Hernia mesh
- Cochlear implants
- Allergan breast implants
Usually, manufacturers practice due diligence and issue a recall when an issue has been discovered. However, this isn’t always the case, and when manufacturers ignore this responsibility they can face a class action lawsuit or mass tort. This is where a personal injury lawyer with experience in defective devices can help if you believe a medical device caused you harm due to a manufacturer’s negligence.
It’s still going to take a while to address and correct many of these problems in the healthcare industry in the U.S. The good news is that because many of these issues are interconnected, correcting one means that at least one more will be positively affected. For example, increasing transparency may also help reduce healthcare costs.