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What’s Broken About Health Care & How To Fix It

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What’s Broken About Health Care & How To Fix It

If you haven’t noticed, our health care system in the U.S. is imploding. I mean - things are bad. I’m a doctor, and yet, because I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in my twenties, and because my husband accidentally cut two fingers off his left hand with a table saw, we’re uninsurable under a traditional family health insurance program. We’re still on COBRA, paying $1200/month until it runs out in two years and we’ll have to scramble to find a way to stay insured.

If we hadn’t been insured, my husband certainly wouldn’t have had those two fingers he cut off all the way to the nubs replanted. And he wouldn’t have had those two follow up surgeries he needed in order to cut out the scar tissue that the first surgery caused. And he’d have a dang hard time typing out his novel right about now without those two fingers.

And we’re not even sick. God forbid one of us gets cancer (knock wood).

We Need Socialized Medicine

Health insurance as a for-profit business needs to be banned, and a nationalized system of health care needs to be implemented, as it has been in nearly every other developed nation, because basic health care should be a right, not a privilege. The US was recently rated 37th in health outcomes by The World Health Organization, roughly on par with Serbia, while what we spend on health care is more than twice what people in other developed countries pay.  In his article Why Our Health Matters, Dr. Andrew Weil writes, “If predictions hold, a family of four, in the next seven to nine years, will spend around $64,000 annually on health care.” Holy schmoly.

Bye Bye Big Pharma, Hello Tort Reform

Big Pharma needs to be reined in and direct-to-consumer marketing should be eliminated, since it only serves to drive up the cost of health care. I know we need tort reform to lower the exorbitant cost of medical malpractice insurance, and we need laws in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits. (Yes, the only malpractice lawsuit ever filed against me was by a woman who says I stole her labia. Swear to God. And no – I didn’t take it. But that’s another story for another day.)

The Doctor-Patient Relationship Needs To Be Reformed

As I wrote about here, managed care insurance companies have fractured the doctor-patient relationship, without decreasing health care costs, and the power in the health care system needs to be reinstated back where it belongs, in the hands of health care providers and patients, rather than in the pens and pockets of middle managers who are raking in massive profits, while patients and doctors are being squeezed.

The doctor-patient relationship needs some serious reform, and we must reclaim the heart of medicine. After all, science can cure, but only love heals, and medicine is, after all, a spiritual practice. In my work with patients, I practice love, with a little medicine on the side, and there are others out there practicing Pink Medicine and relating with patients the way I believe every doctor should, as I wrote about here.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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9:24PM PST on Nov 16, 2011

Thank you Dr Rankin. You are appreciated!

6:52AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

I don't understand why so many people are hung up on single payer. I believe that in G8 countries, only the UK and Canada have single payer systems.

Germany which has one of the best universal systems is handled by a number of regulated but competing private insurance companies - like the Obamacare model. Germany has the same wait times for elective surgery as do well insured Americans.

2:22AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

We here in the UK had a motley mish mash of a medical health service until 1945.
Following the aftermath of the war and the general election that followed, the result was a landslide for the Labour Party, when 'socialised' medical care became a reality, brought about by the tireless endeavours of Aneurin Bevan and his supporters against "priveleged" opposition.
A Welshman from Tredegar, Monmouthshire (see Wikipedia), Aneurin Bevan represented Ebbw Vale in Wales, and was appointed Minister for Health and introduced, for the first time ever, medical care for all, free at the point of use.
It is paid for through a National Insurance contribution from employers and employees and has very worked well until recently, when "Market Forces" (competition) was introduced by the previous excuse for a Labour Government, calling itself New Labour (a slightly watered version of the Conservative Party), and the recent coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives who seem determined in turning the clock back to pre 1945, to a system which you Americans currently "enjoy". Always remember, these people are extremely wealthy, those we elect freely (with a "little" help from the media in all its forms) without any thought of the consequences of such action. We are, if we are to be really truthful to ourselves, just Turkeys Always Voting For Christmas.

10:58PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

The majority of health care professionals need to be examined. Most docotrs are hurrying their patients through a 10 minute office visit and prescribing poisonous pharmecuetical drugs in copious amounts at exhorbitant prices. There is so much misdiagnosis going on. Case in point, I was admitted to an US urgent care facility in 2005 because of a case of severe food poisoning. I knew what happened to me, but the doctors at the facitility were having none of it and insisted on a number of unnecessary tests while they put me on a saline solution for 9 hours to hydrate my system. And that's it. They told me I had a heart problem (WRONG). I had recently had all tests in another hospital in Europe and I was diagnosed completely healthy. Then they tried to get me to go to another heart specialist, which I declined. AND gave me a bill for $5,000.00. My whole 8 day hospital stay including apendectomy in a European hospital 3 months prior to this incident cost me the same $5,000.00 that the American rugent care facility charged me for 9 hours of a few needless tests, which I declined, but they performed anyway, & the saline solution. And making the entire population responsible for the few incidents of malpractice that a few doctors have suffered is also criminal God gives us so many natural remedies here on this planet that can actually cure us, and keep us well. The periwinkle flower, for instance can cure many cancers. MMS2 another cancer cure. Go natural & be well.

9:02PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

Problem is U.S. has NO Health Care; only Health Insurance. Other countries have Health Care. That is THE PROBLEM.

6:49PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

not everyone goes to the United States for the 'best health care' because some can not afford it. My brother had surgery for nothing because of health insurance. It would have cost $10, 000 to have it completed in the United States. There may be amazing doctors in the US but cost should not be a barrier to health.

5:56PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

How about healthy food choices and exercise in schools. Better food choices for low income people; quit making apples more expensive than McDonalds. Let's help Americans get healthier and won't need billions of dollars in health care on diseases that are preventable. Then don't put health care decisions in the hands of insurance companies! Just a thought....

2:48PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

Thanks Lissa.

12:54PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

The USA needs single payer,universal health care,and instead they took the half a loaf atitude, instead of doing it right the first time.As one who born , lived,trained and worked as a healthcare professional in the UK. I can state one fact. IT WORKS,why was it not possible for reps. from the USA. to go to Western European and find out how it works.? God knows they fly all over the place at our expense.I was shocked when I arrived in the USA to find that healthcare was available only to those who could afford it.
I urge the USA, Join the civilized nations and take care of your citizens.
One last point. (for those of you who watch the emergency room of a London hospital)None of those patients are billed! Imagine that!

12:40PM PST on Nov 15, 2011

Right on, Fred Krohn! I agree - "we do NOT need is socialised medicine"!! That is why you have Canadians coming over the boarder to the US - for the BEST healthcare the WORLD has to offer! Why don't we stop insuring the ILLEGALS instead?

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