UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 9 June 2014

US healthcare: fraud, over-priced and over here?

The Economist’s revelation that America lost up to $272 billion in 2011 to medical fraud and abuse comes on top of research showing just how inefficient the US system is, while it looks for opportunities to export its greed for profits to the NHS.
    $272 billion is “10% of medical spending and a whopping 1.7% of GDP—as if robbers had made off with the entire output of Tennessee or nearly twice the budget of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)”, says the Economist.

Meanwhile a study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and McGill University in Montreal reveals that the United States health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analysed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives.

Study after study (like this one in the Guardian’s datablog)  shows that the US system costs up to three times per head more than the NHS with the US showing poorer results in terms of health, infant mortality and overall life expectancy.

Why that should be is obvious. The money reaped by insurance companies, drug companies and other healthcare companies all taking their huge profits.

Back in April, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham warned in the Independent that the NHS could be "carved open" for these profiteering US private healthcare companies by the end of this year, with the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty between the US and the EU giving "irreversible" powers to bid for any NHS contract.

He called for an exemption for the NHS to protect it from market forces and international competition law which he said threatened the "fabric" of a publicly run, free-at-the-point-of-use NHS.

He should of course have been arguing for the ditching of the whole secretive deal because it will affect all public services, not just the NHS.

As we reported yesterday, we need to act now.

1. Contact your MP, MEP, MSP or assembly member and raise your concerns about TTIP. Ask them to oppose the deal.

2. Get your branch to link up with other organisations locally that are campaigning against TTIP such as War on Want and the World Development Movement. You could then organise a public meeting, lobby your MP’s surgery and write to your local paper.

3. Spread the word about the dangers of TTIP using social media such as Twitter (#stopTTIP) and Facebook.