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20 Signs That The Health Care Industry Has Become All About Making As Much Money As Possible

Once upon a time in America, people became doctors and nurses because they wanted to help people, building hospitals was a labor of love, lawyers didn't chase ambulances, health insurance companies did not openly abuse their customers and greedy pharmaceutical companies did not dominate the entire health care industry.  But today all of that has changed.  Why do most people choose a career in the health care industry today?  It is because they want to make a lot of money and live a comfortable lifestyle.  Why do most health facilities get built today?  They get built because someone is hoping to make a huge profit.  Why do so many lawyers specialize in medical malpractice?  Here's a hint - it is not because they want to make life better for people.  Why do health insurance companies keep raising premiums even while they are making record profits?  It is because they can and because they are greedy.  Why are pharmaceutical corporations some of the most profitable companies on the face of the earth even though their products are harming tens of millions of people?  It is because our health care system has become wildly corrupt and is now about making as much money as possible.

Not that everyone in the health care industry is motivated by greed.  Some doctors and nurses volunteer a ton of their time to assist the poor and the needy.  Others use their vacation time to go overseas and provide free medical care in third world nations.  Many religious groups and non-profit organizations build hospitals and clinics because they are truly trying to help people.  And there are a few health insurance companies that are trying to play the game honestly.

But unfortunately, those with noble intentions in the health care industry are the exception rather than the rule.  Overall, the health care industry in America is all about the money, and it is about time that we quit pretending otherwise.

The following are 20 signs that the health care industry in the United States has become all about making as much money as possible....  

1 - Even as the rest of the U.S. economy deeply struggles, America's health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009.

2 - According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America's five biggest for-profit health insurers ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.

3 - The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States received nearly $200 million in total compensation in 2009.

4 - According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers in the United States increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.

5 - Health insurance premium increases are getting totally out of control.  For example, the 39% increase in health insurance premiums that Anthem Blue Cross imposed on some California customers last year was so obscene that it made national headlines.

6 - Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.

7 - There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits in 2008.

8 - Each year, tens of billions of dollars is spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the United States alone.

9 - Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to a CDC report that was just released. According to the report, approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more prescription drugs on a regular basis.

10 - According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

11 - According to a very surprising new study, 85 percent of new pharmaceutical drugs are "lemons" and pose serious health risks to their users.

12 - The Food and Drug Administration reported 1,742 prescription drug recalls in 2009, which was a gigantic increase from 426 drug recalls in 2008.

13 - Shocking new research has found that expectant mothers taking antidepressants have an astounding 68 percent increase in the overall risk of miscarriage.  Yet the pharmaceutical companies are essentially doing nothing to stop this.

14 - The use of psychiatric medications among 18 to 34 year old members of the U.S. military and their wives increased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2009.

15 - There are some disturbing new medical studies that suggest that many of the most popular anti-depressant drugs are no more effective than a placebo.

16 - Pharmaceutical companies continue to rake in billions of dollars from selling vaccines and are encouraging even pregnant women to take them, even though there is mounting evidence that taking vaccines while pregnant dramatically increases the rate of miscarriage.

17 - One woman in New Hampshire is seeking more than $24 million in damages from the manufacturer of a prescription drug that she took for shoulder pain.  It turns out that as a result of taking the drug, she is now blind and has been left scarred by internal and external burns.

18 - According to one stunning new study, the medical liability system in the United States added approximately $55.6 billion to the cost of health care in 2008.

19 - Pharmaceutical companies have become so greedy that now they are even attempting to patent our genes.  It is being reported that over three million gene patent applications have been filed with the U.S. government so far.  Tens of thousands of gene patents have already been granted at this point.  It is estimated that companies hold approximately 40,000 patents on sections of the human genome right now.  Those patents cover approximately 20% of our genes. 

20 - According to a recent report, Americans spend about twice as much as residents of other developed countries on health care, but get much lower quality and far less efficiency in return.

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  • Tom

    Does anyone reading this blog still think that the US healthcare system is the best in the world? Here’s a story for you. I live in South Korea which is G13 compared to the US which is G1. /You’d think their healthcare system would be inferior, right? Wrong. A hospital visit will cost you on average 10 dollars and a prescription drug even less than that. They all use modern facilities and equipment, and many have studied abroad and speak very good English. A great example I like to give is this: a friend of mine wanted a vasectomy, so he went into a local hospital cold without an appointment and asked for one. He had insurance, but of course insurance would not pay for a surgery that was not medically necessary like this one. So he waited, and he was wheeled in to the surgery room in less than two hours, once again without an appointment. Then, when the surgery was complete, the charge was under $200! Unbelievable! So the next time you here anyone say that the US has the best medical system in the world, DON’T BELIEVE IT.

  • nakedguy

    sad ,but very true , it is up to everyone to start looking into natural meds

  • Gary

    single payer is the only way. All that profit the greedy useless insurance companies make would be spent on patient care. The state needs to approve all new hospital building so new hospitals are built a mile away from an existing hospital.

  • Tom

    If American ever had a chance at affordable Health Care, it got lost in regulation.
    http://fee.org/articles/tgif/solution-health-care/

  • Pete Bromley

    Here is an interesting issue.Once upon a time in America,people became Doctors and nurses as a calling to help ease the pain of their fellow man.In small communities,the doctor was much like the local pastor;one watched over your health,the other over your soul.The doctor would be well taken care of by the community,but did not become wealthy as a businessman would,because Doctors were above business.churches helped establish hospitals to help carry out the mission of Christian compassion,and people were treated whether they could pay or not.People had honor back then,so lawyers never figured into the mix.The main purpose of the Doctor wasn’t to become rich,but to do his part to help make the world a better place,and many Doctors served their communities,taking their charges from cradle to the grave.Fast forward to now,when health care is just another business,and the doc driving the bentley doesn’t know you from Adam.Just another sad commentary on how far we have fallen as a nation.

  • Jackson

    The FDA and medical industry fights very hard to keep natural cures / herbal medicine out of the united states because it threatens profits and the industry.

  • JustanOGuy

    That’s reality kids. The whole system is one big Greedy machine and Americans get to pay for it… one way or another.

  • Patrick

    This post, sorry to say, is quite sloppy, bereft of facts and context, and seems mainly designed to set off some hotheads without thinking through some of the claims posted.

    1 – Because other sectors are doing poorly, insurance has to be “just as bad” or otherwise evil?

    2 – On how much revenue? The profit dollars are meaningless without being able to calculate margin, or profit %. Just printing a few billions is pandering to hotheads.

    3 – How many executives is this? What is the compensation *per executive*? How does this compare to other industries? Why is it appropriate to complain about someone’s compensation, so long as you are not forced to do business with them by government?

    4 – 180% over 10 years? How does that compare to inflation? How much of that is due to expanded coverage mandates by states and the federal government? How has profitability increased (if at all) over that time period? And Mother Jones is hardly neutral, being an ultra-left wing political journal.

    5 – Again, how much of the premium increase is due to increased coverage mandates, including some of the new features of the health care reform such as taking most actuarial risk management techniques away from insurers (i.e. insurers are no longer allowed to say “no, we will not take you on as a customer because you are too risky”, insurers have to cover children until they are 26, and many other cost-increasing meaures.)

    6 – Seven years, fifty states, $42 million = $120,000 per state, per year across all candidates. That’s not that much, quite frankly.

    7 – So we have a market with many companies producing medicines, and doing well at it. Seems like a fine thing to me. I don’t expect scientists and researchers to work for free, and if these companies are making a profit coming up with new vaccines and medicines – GOOD!

    8 – So what? The pharmas are doing exactly what GM, GE, and Netflix are doing: they advertise their products.

    9 – That Americans are addicted to pill-popping is neither the pharmas’ fault nor their responsibility. Market demand exists, someone satisfies it. Should a vodka manufacturer be at fault if I become an alcoholic? or is that my responsibility and problem to deal with?

    10 – Drugs are getting more and more sophisticated, and people are taking more of them in possibly untested combinations. This, and some of the following items, are unrelated to the supposed topic of this post.

    11-19 – more anecdotal, unrelated, grumps. Taking medicines is risky and expensive, and one way to reduce medicine is to start with personal responsibility (eat less, eat right, exercise more) instead of blaming some companies for selling people what they clamor for.

    20 – You neglect to mention the US system’s legal costs and risks compared to other nations, and that we also subsidize pharma research for the rest of the world because other nations impose price controls on medicines. Now, judging by this post, you might agree with price controls, but for a blog with “Economic” in the title you should also understand that price controls don’t make a market nice and cuddly, they distort pricing signals and reduce supplier incentive to continue producing. See Soviet Union, East Germany, Cuba, venezuela: the US even in its current is far preferable to any of those.

  • mbabsit

    Aetna is so greedy that they throw people off of its health plans, claiming that there are “too few” insured in a given area. Don’t believe it? They threw my elderly Mother off! Thank you, Osambo!

  • http://WBDM Joe in JT

    Here’s a greedy story about a dentist. I needed a root canal on my right eye tooth. The dentist told me if the tooth broke during the procedure that he would have to put on a crown (cap) and it would cost an additional $1000. He did the root canal without breaking the eye tooth, but thought to himself, “I’m not making enough money off of this guy.” So while the novacane was still numb he drilled out the tooth next to my eye tooth for no apparent reason, then filled it with whatever they use. The next day I was eating a soft sandwich and the tooth he drilled broke in half causing me severe pain. I rushed back to him and he proceded to do a root canal on that tooth AND a crown, costing me almost 4000 dollars.

    The point of my story is this. My greedy dentist purposely drilled out a good tooth to weaken it. Knowing full well that the first time I bit into any food the tooth would break and I would come running back to him. I had no insurance and had to put it on a credit card. Now I’m in trouble with my credit card because I can’t afford to pay all that money. This is the entrapment medical mafia we have today.

  • SpreadtheWealth-NOT

    The large healthcare corporations and hospitals collude with government to maximize profits at the cost of competitors and affordable pricing. This relationship has only been solidified with the passage of Obamacare. Real comprehensive reform would’ve probably involved a comination of reduced taxes and regulations, genuine tort reform to demotivate grasping trial attorneys, a simple catostrophic plan, and NO mandatory requirement to cover pre-existing conditions. Everyone would’ve receive some coverage with the option of upgrading it based on need. Companies would benefit equally with no advantage for deep pocketed companies.

    Such an idea, while eminently sensible, would make too much sense for the Progressives and fail to achieve their goal for government controlled servitude. Only the grandiose, titanic fiscal architecture of statist healthcare could satisfy these Captain Smiths.

  • El Pollo de Oro

    During the health care “debate” of 2009, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wrote a scathing attack on the state of health care in The Banana Republic of America (BRA) and predicted that 2009 would go down in history as the year that Americans lost their country for good. Taibbi was absolutely right. The health insurance industry and their evil lobbyists hijacked that “debate” and made sure that there would be one of two outcomes: (1) lousy health care “reform” under the Democrats, or (2) no health care reform at all under the Republicans. We got #1: a weak bill that doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t do nearly enough to reign in the real-life death panels (to borrow a term from Governor Quitter) such as Blue Cross, United Healthcare and Aetna. The Democrats tossed a few stale bread crumbs to sick people, and the Republicans insist that the bread crumbs were much too generous.

    Having done a lot of business travel in Western Europe, I’ve met many American expatriates who plan to stay in Europe permanently–and one of the top reasons is health care. Europeans pay a lot less for health care yet get much better results than Americans. No one in France or Holland or Spain loses a foot to diabetes because of an HMO that didn’t want to cover a visit to a podiatrist no matter how much the doctor begged and pleaded, but that type of horror story is all too common in this Third World hellhole that used to be the USA.

    Tragically, the number of medical bankruptcies will not decrease in the BRA–the problem will only get worse. Premiums will continue to skyrocket, small businesses will no longer be able to offer health insurance to employees, sick people won’t get the treatment they need, life expectancy for most Americans will plummet, and a horribly broken system will never be fixed. Matt Taibbi nailed it: Americans have lost their country for good.

  • fed up conservative

    Gosh, golly and gee whiz!!! You shock me that this seems to such a surprise to most people. Think about this: All the generic drugs you get for three or four dollars a month cost thedrug store about seenty five cents, or maybe a buck each. As a believer in free enterprise, I am good with that. Profit is good. However, five dollars for each pill is a real rape job for my blood pressure medicine on a monthly basis. Big Pharma gets about two bucks, and Big Drug Store
    gets about Three Dollars for each pill.

  • Fher

    This has a name. It´s called Capitalism.

  • DontWorryItsAlmostOver

    Please change the title of this article. You are describing 2 sectors of the Health Care Industry, big pharma and insurance. Big sectors for sure, but that doesn’t cover the whole. Many hospitals are trying to lean out their practices (in the Midwest especially)to provide the best care value, although many just don’t care to do that. And if you are going to talk about health care, you need to address American lifestyle. Diabetes and heart issues run rampant due to our obese population, and are treated after the fact, skyrocketing premiums and the cost of health care.
    The jist of the article is correct. Pharma and insurance are big problems. But only part of the equation.

  • sharonsj

    You can add that the health reform bill doesn’t go into effect right away–it will take several years for all the regulations to happen.

    In the meantime, maybe you can follow that Republican candidate’s advice: if you need medical treatment, offer the doctor a chicken as payment. Apparently, after they spend our taxpayer money fighting the bill through the court systems, that’s the only choice we’ll be left with. Gee, doc, do you want that chicken dead or alive?

  • killian

    i came home to the US to visit. while there i had an anxiety attack(but such knowledge is hindsight). an ambulance took me to the ER. a doctor saw me.they took an ekg and an x-ray. no diagnosis.about two hours of observation and then told me to go home.
    guess the cost.
    wrong.
    all told…$13,000
    1 thou for the ambulance
    1 thou for the doc
    11 thou for the ER.

    what is a guy suppossed to do?

  • Colin

    Patrick, I stopped reading your comment at #2 because it was the most worthless line of text I’ve read yet on the internet. Which insurance company do you work for?

  • http://www.zeitgeist-movement.com Andy Brooks

    Patrick, many drug breakthrough are repressed due to the fact that effectively curing patients will not generate as much profit as creating a medicine which effectively cures the patient. Try digging a little deeper and avoid just absorbing everything the mainstream news networks are telling you. Do a little research for yourself. Drug corporations are in it for the profit. And if they can perpetuate less effective drugs at a constant rate than the more profit they make. As you and many other people should be aware, such drug corporations don’t give a damn about people like you and me, all they see are $$$.

  • Sammy

    I think we Americans really need to do some soul searching. No matter how you cut it, things don’t look good. On the medical system, at 62 years of age, I eat according to the new pyramid of the Dept of Agriculture (in my opinion about 20 years late to change),I get my exercise, I see my doctor regularly, but I take prescribed medication as a last resort (which is none up to now). Nothing takes off or continues in America unless somebody, or many people, are making a barrel load of money in it.
    When that happens, that is the soul requirement. When a need arises, we don’t say how can we meet it, rather we say, “How can we make a lot of money at it”. That is capitalism! And all capitalism involved in meeting real needs like health care needs a strong regulatory hand.

  • http://www.zeitgeist-movement.com Andy Brooks

    Slight mistake in my previous post – I meant, “effectively curing patients will not generate as much profit as a medicine acting more like a placebo, as they will continue to come back to purchase more less effective medicine*

  • Sammyone

    Next time you or a loved one is saved by a ground-breaking medical treatment or device or drug made in the US (WHERE ELSE?), say a little prayer of gratitude for all those innovators, regardless of whether their motives were pecuniary or altruistic.

    Personally, looking back at all the times my family kept a loved one because of the modern miracle of medicine, and ahead at all the times my family will be saved, I thank them.

    I don’t care why they did it.

  • Sammyone

    Modern medicine has healed my family many times. I don’t care what the motives of those that make it possible are. It’s worth what I have had to pay and more.

    Next time (Oh, yes there will be a next time) I will thank God for those men and women. I don’t care how much they make for what they do.

    Great rewards are due to those who create great benefits or services.

  • http://www.zeitgeist-movement.com Andy Brooks

    Sammyone, it seems your family are quite lucky indeed. There are many MANY other hospitals out there who don’t care about the patients. Check the following links for evidence supporting the lack of competence of many hospitals, and bear in mind these are just a small percentage of cases.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/028993_waiting_room_hospital.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1310988/Coroner-hits-doctors-hours-patients-dies.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1143182/Heart-patient-died-left-waiting-TWO-HOURS-outside-hospital-A-E-department.html

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=5284151&page=1

    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2008/06/20/2008-06-20_patient_dies_waiting_for_bed_at_kings_co.html

    I DO care how much they make for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad your family received the care every other individual in the world should receive, but the fact is many do NOT receive similar treatment. These days the reason behind the majority of paracetamol/aspirin like drug (scientifically proven placebo) development is primarily for profit.

  • Sammyone

    Face it, Andy, the world is a messed up place. But one of the jewels of Western civilization is the advanced state of her medical arts.

    My point is that we cannot throw out the baby with the bath water. I can match horror stories with you on family members and friends that have received terrible care. But that does not obviate the fact that if we are not careful many of the wonders of science that save lives of hundreds of thousands each year could be in jeopardy.

    More importantly, the continued advances of medicine could be halted by short-sighted efforts to rein in medical industry costs.

    There is no telling what the future of medical science could yield to man. The lamest argument I ever heard for curtailing expenditure on the medical field is, ‘Sure, they saved my life. But it cost so much.’

    If we remove life style illnesses from the equation, we are the healthiest and longest living society we have ever been.

    How much is that worth?

    If you were lieing on a gurney in an emergency waiting for a just-invented life-saving procedure or waiting in a doctor’s office to receive the latest drug to save your life, I think I know what the answer would be.

  • A Sunbeam

    From my viewpoint we need 2 things:
    1. Single Payer Universal Healthcare.
    2. End the Medical MOnoploly and start seeing Acupuncturists, herbalists and nitritional Healers (among others). Not only are they more cost effective – but often far more effective at Healing!

  • jc

    Sammy,

    The point is not to end up on the gurney. The fact is, most drugs are highly toxic and very damaging to the liver and other organs, including the ones that seem to do what we expect them to do.

    Sure, if I break my leg, I want a doctor to put it back together. But I don’t want to be butchered or poisoned, which is quite common. I go for natural solutions and, funny enough, I rarely get sick. The best doctor is one I never have to see.

  • curtis batteiger

    I wish to state to the comment and discussion from patrick. you are very naive. I work in the healthcare industry. and industry it is. most practitioners today view it as what it is–corporate healthcare. where I work employees are subjected to forced health screening to be eligible for health insurance, and this is within the hospital. administration follows direction of updates on laws and direction. This is followed protection of the industry. pre-existing conditions are sought through screening-and rates adjusted according to risk. also people are pressured to take prescriptions to keep rates in a low risk price range. in many areas such as diabetics, you pay through the nose for items that you must have–glucose test strips for example, I can go on forever this issue, but fact is people who speak as yourself show bias because as a broker would advice a client to buy stock in a economy that sinking shows he is in the business, and looking to cover his end, what is your end, patrick?

  • Nikki

    A few words. . .My boyfriend stepped on a nail a few weeks ago. Because he hadn’t had a tetnus shot since childhood, we knew we had to get one. We called the nurse on-line to see if it could wait until morning, as it was Sunday night, and my boyfriend’s insurance from his new job hadn’t kicked in yet. She said get to the ER, as he has a high risk of infection. So, for 15 minutes with a doctor cleaning the wound and administering a Tetnus shot–the bill was $843 dollars! I would have been shocked at that, but I pay $822 dollars a month for my employee health insurance plan that covers only me and my son. THAT’S 822 DOLLARS A MONTH!! And I wonder why I live paycheck to paycheck! The Insurance Industry is bleeding America–and when it’s got it’s fill–those who wanted the money will have it. Guess I wish I could go without insurance, but thanks to the new legislation–I can’t.

  • Bub

    Don’t fall in front of a hospital- They will come out and steal your wallet!

  • johnny

    The need for strong, meaningful regulation is glaringly apparent but its not going to happen without a significant collapse in the economy because the politicians of both parties are bought and paid for by the big corporations.

  • Lyle Courtsal

    Oh yeah, rightie, it’s always the government. Like when Bush didn’t regulate the banks, or when bush stopped state regulators from regulating banks; wait thats consequences of private sector deregulation, not government regulation. Who’s Brooksley Borne? Oh yeah, the woman who predicted the crash that took $700 bil. of your tax money into the private sector via Bush again. Yeah, you can keep on whipping the government horse, but really it’s just greed; if they can steal it, they will and screw you if you’re starving or dying of diseases. Again monopolies that extort as a consequence of de-regulation done under Bush-Reagan allowed the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people who cared less and less about what the socioeconoomic consequences are. Twas ever thus. Read Howard Zinn.

  • ken lusk

    Their is no health care industry in the USA, their is a health insurance industry with health care workers.

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