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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Going to the doctor in America

I read in The Washington Post today that the US is No. 1 in healthcare, not in a good way but in terms of leading the world in healthcare expenditure.
An American friend asked me about how advanced is the medical care in Singapore. Being partial to Singapore’s healthcare, I highlighted what I wrote in my book “Going to America? Get Inside Information” that I get to see a doctor in Singapore for a common ailment for just US$15 and that would include the medicine as well. Over here in the US, I would probably pay about US$100 to see a doctor and then pay extra to get medication from the pharmacy. Once, when my daughter (then 6 years old) was down with flu, I brought her to a pediatric clinic and was surprised that she was given a urine test and strep throat test. The bill came up to US$120. There are some flaws in the US medical system. There is a litigation system in place to protect patients from medical malpractice; however this system is now working against patients. Doctors fear being sued for negligence and hence they practice defensive medicine. This translates to unnecessary medical tests for patients and higher health costs. The litigation system that allows for doctors to be sued and for patients to be given huge compensation for malpractice has the unintended effect of benefiting lawyers who reap the biggest share of jury awards for medical incompetence. Both the doctors and their patients suffer from this.

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