mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Shingles And The American Health Care Fiasco

Shingles is a serious, often excruciatingly painful disease that people who’ve had chicken pox often (roughly 1 million cases a year) get later in life.  The good news: there’s an effective vaccine that would prevent the disease and save billions.  The bad news: there isn’t enough of it and only 10 percent of the at-risk population (Americans over 60) have had the shot.

In a nutshell, this is what’s wrong with the American way of health and a clue to how to fix it: we have lots of treatments, but our delivery system is a mess.

As a culture we are focused on scientific advances in medicine, hailing each new pill and each new procedure.  What we’ve got to understand is that the inglorious work of making health care work matters as much as winning Nobels.

More generally, improving the productivity of service industries (not just medicine, but things like education and law) is the number one task facing us today.  Get that right, and the US economy will soar as our living standards rise.

Get that wrong, and we will fester and stew in a slough of despond.  Right now, we are getting it wrong.

So despite the world’s most complex and expensive healthcare system, we can’t even get a proven vaccine out to those who really need it.  This is the problem with the system as a whole: we have the answers but we can’t squeeze them through the bottlenecks of our over-regulated and complicated healthcare system.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service