By Kulsum Musani
We love being at the top when it comes to anything that involves ranking. The United States is in the top five when it comes to technology, human development and even maize oil production. Yet we consistently fail when it comes to medicine and healthcare. We have the resources, pay so much for our healthcare and yet receive so little in return. Why?
One reason is access to doctors: we have only 2.4 practicing physicians for every 1000 people. People with healthcare have more access to these physicians, from diagnosis, to treatment, to hospital beds. It’s sad that the treatment we get is usually dependent on how much insurance we have -higher income families have better insurance compared to lower income families.
What’s interesting is that Greece, a country that literally is bankrupt is ranks first in the number of physicians: 4.9 for every 1000 people. The Greek health system also ranks ninth in the world, ahead of Britain, Germany, and Sweden, with the United States coming in at number 37 behind countries such as Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica according to allcountries.org.
The biggest factor in all of this is education for physicians. Medical schools in Greece are free, compared to nearly $50,000 per year for med school in the US. What we end up with is an abundance of doctors in Greece and the U.S. med. school students completing their education in places such as the Caribbean and India.
Nevertheless, we can’t undermine the university education in the US. While med. school location are limited and extremely difficult to gain admission from, they are some of the best in the world. When a student graduates from a medical school in America, they can usually work as doctors anywhere else in the world without more certification from that place.
The only problem with America’s med. schools is the same as with almost every part of America: the finances. So how do we fix this? How do we ensure that America’s students get into med schools, regardless of how enormous their trust funds are? How do we ensure that med school students aren’t paying off student loans, even when they’re 60 years old? How do we ensure that more students graduate from American med schools and work in America, thus improving the quality AND quantity of American health care?
We already know that for America, it is not possible or plausible to be anywhere other than the top or somewhere near the top in any competition. Are we really going to let that one tradition, so deeply ingrained in our history and way of life bog us down? Let’s face it- America’s health care has to improve. American students should be going to American med schools and those same American students should work in American hospitals and offices.
The American people shouldn’t be denied health care because the balances in their bank accounts doesn’t have enough zeros. We pay for it. We’re entitled to it. We deserve it.