The State of the Union and How We Can Change It

          The president’s State of the Union addressed several areas of our mutual concerns and if we can assist him in achieving a better healthcare outcome for the nation, then we can truly move forward with more energy to improve the lives of millions.

         The President rightfully focused on healthcare, particularly drug prices and its outrageous costs. If the legislation he proposes passes, drug companies, insurance companies and hospitals will have to disclose real costs to foster competition and bring costs down.  Presently drug companies charge what the market will bear and hospital bills vary according to the individual hospital’s financial requirements at the time of billing. Nothing is standard.

         It is a known fact that the number one reason for bankruptcies in the United states are drug and medical costs. Few Americans know that we spend $3.3 trillion annually, twice as much per capita than the next developed nation on healthcare. In spite of America’s gold standard in medical facilities and expertise, we rank 37th in health among other developed nations, 26th in longevity and 29th in infant mortality. The third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer is death from hospital care.

Here is a quote from the transcript:

“The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs -- and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.
Already, as a result of my Administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years
But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.
I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients. We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.”

           Perhaps finally some attention may be put on the fact that the US is, with the exception of New Zealand, the only nation that is prohibited by law from negotiating costs of drugs with drug companies, therefore Medicare has to pay what they charge, regardless of how outrageous.  And as the president says, the same drugs sell for a multiple in the US of what they cost in other countries.  And they are the identical drugs.

Example

          The heartburn pill Nexium costs $214 per prescription, but it sells for $23 in Holland, $42 in England and $58 in Spain. There is not a molecule of difference between them.

          Another is the EpiPen for food allergies. It could cost Mylan, the manufacturer, as little as $20, for each EpiPen, which costs patients a retail price of more than $600 for a two-pack.

Disparity in Costs for Identical Procedures

 There is a huge disparity in hospital charges for the same procedure, for example:

          “For joint replacements, which are the most common hospital procedure for Medicare patients, prices ranged from a low of $5,304 in Ada, Okla., to $223,373 in Monterey Park, Calif. The average charge across the 427,207 Medicare patients’ joint replacements was $52,063.

           In downtown New York City, two hospitals 63 blocks apart varied by 321 percent in the prices they charged to treat complicated cases of asthma or bronchitis. One charged an average of $34,310; the other billed, on average, $8,159.” Washington Post, May, 2013

          This is precisely what the president is talking about.

          And there is the amount of money top executives of the drug companies make annually.

Outrageous Payment to Big Pharma Executives

          There is nothing wrong in America for successful business people to work hard to reach the pinnacle of success and make as much money as they can; but this doesn’t mean they are entitled to it. The Sackley Brothers started Purdue Pharma, selling oxycontin. The youngest brother, Arthur, has been called the father of the opioid crisis. The drug has made the family $13,000,000,000, and they are marketing it now to South America and China.

          Here are three who also capitalized on America’s pain by making and selling drugs that they boosted prices to just under what Americans could afford, or what the market would bear:

  1. Leonard S. Schleifer, Regneron: $47.5 million ($130,136 per day)
  2. Robert J. Hugin, Celgene:  $22.5 million ($157,808 per day)
  3. Alex Gorsky, Johnson and Johnson, $21.1 million, ($57,808 per day)

Salvation

          There is an answer. Changing the medical paradigm of symptom handling by painkilling drugs and its disease maintenance system to one that maintains health, not just treat illness symptoms by drugs or invasive surgery. There is a program that handles pain without drugs or surgery, unless last resort, not as a first handling. It is the integrated clinics now becoming the new medicine, where doctors of various disciplines operate under one roof in collaborative treatment of patients.

Learn How to Join the Legions of Doctors Choosing Integration

            Check out the stellar clinical system at www.amidoctors.com for more information about how achieve such a clinic of your own. Call us at 1-888-777-0815 to see how we can help implement systems into your office.

 Dr. Mike Carberry, D.C.