4 shocking facts about American healthcare (video)

His name is Josh Sundquist, and he’s really good. In this video, he talks about four crazy facts about the US healthcare system. He even posts links to stories detailing the facts he mentions in his video (you can find the links in the “about” section of the video).


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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33 Responses to “4 shocking facts about American healthcare (video)”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    Crap, saline solution should be the easiest to make and store. It’s decisions at the top to artificially create a shortage and thence a demand that is virtually criminal. Suckers.

  2. UncleBucky says:

    Profit in any social service — healthcare, retirement, social work, municipal, county, state and federal oversight and regulation is a SIN.

    We pool our money, no one deserves a slice off the top.

    Now, that goes for legislators, civil service and executives.

  3. karmanot says:


  4. karmanot says:

    And subvert.

  5. dan t says:

    I think you’re right. Thanks. Still, our sloppy med systems do an AWful lot of harm. Somebody has to straighten them out, and not by capping non-econ damages, letting the medos get even sloppier with the low-income patient while redirecting even more time and attention to the high-income.

  6. AtticCrazy says:

    I’m sorry, but language is important. You, as a journalist, know that more than anyone. I know in this day and age of “LOL” and other texting shorthand that some people believe vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation are not important and/or pretentious, but I disagree. I believe that language speaks volumes about our culture. People who believe “eckspecially”, “aks, “eckcetera”, and other incorrect uses of language don’t matter scare me almost as much as “devout Christians”.

    And to the bitter responders below, yes, the video is informative , factual, and horrifying. I am not some far right-wing nutjob trying to redirect or deflect. I am a liberal atheist. I have been HIV+ since 1997 and have had my fair share of run-ins with the healthcare system. It’s broken, it’s corrupt, and our leaders, including those on our “side”, are not going to do anything about it. (And while I believe the ACA–also known as “Obamacare–is a good start, I know that there is too much in it that is just another opportunity to give more money to Big Insurance and Big Pharmaceutical, which is why I believe our leaders are never going to do anything about healthcare that is really needed, because our leaders receive too much money from the “Bigs”.)

    I appreciate the fact that this gentleman is getting the information out. It was funny, informative, and factual. He had my attention the entire time (which is why I noticed the “eckcetera”). I just wish he had been a tiny bit more careful of the English language.

  7. Buford says:

    More to the point:

    1 – For-profit healthcare is immoral

  8. Buford says:

    …also, there’s no way a cat that big could really fit into that MRI machine.

  9. Buford says:

    You’re over-thinking it. His point is simply that our for-profit healthcare system is very broken and rife with waste and inefficiencies… and that people need to go get informed and demand change.

    If ‘some’ folks walk away with that message, this video served its purpose.

  10. KC Jenner says:

    I thought the video was funny and informative at the same time.

  11. KC Jenner says:

    I have had medicare part A and B and my HMO plan said just Secure Horizons, but over the years that added AARP provided by United Healthcare but it was just a “selling” feature to attracted more old customers. I am also a member of the AARP organization that makes it even more confusing.

  12. wildwildwest says:

    The reason why drug companies get away with their maximize profit schemes is because they can, because corporations rule our legislators. It’s legal, in other words. Why is it legal? Ask your legislators.

  13. wildwildwest says:

    And divert.

  14. wildwildwest says:

    I’ve worked on the financial side of healthcare for over twenty years. The one and only reason healthcare in this country is so expensive is this: For-profit medical care. It never benefits the patient, and insurance companies are NOT your friend.

  15. dan t says:

    Employer-provided health insurance ties/tied the employee to the job, which employers love.

  16. dan t says:

    What’s up with touting the “frivolous medical malpractice” meme, John? It’s at 2:18 in the Josh Sundquist vid. Are you thinking that so-called frivolous medmal suits are really a big problem, or what?

  17. dan t says:

    Great, this guy tells us (at 2:18) that a Price Waterhouse Coopers study says that 10% of U.S. medical spending is driven by “frivolous malpractice lawsuits.”

    But this guy does NOT tell us that the PwC study was commissioned by AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans), which is a (or the) big medical insurance industry lobbying group.

    WHY does this guy not tell us who commissioned the study? Surely he and/or his writers know it was commissioned by AHIP, right?

    Not good. Makes me want to not trust this guy.

    What I’ve read is, it’s extremely hard to get a so-called “frivolous” medical malpractice lawsuit to trial. Judges bounce them before they get to court. And what the right wing is trying to do with this “frivolous lawsuit” attack is, DEFUND TRIAL LAWYERS. Why? Because trial lawyers are one of the few power bases in America who have the clout to actually stand up to corporations and make a difference for people.

    Kings and princes absolutely HATE anybody with the power to challenge them.

  18. BeccaM says:

    And 6c: TV commercials and other advertisements telling people to go to their doctors to ask for unnecessary prescription meds.

    Most other sane nations ban the practice.

  19. BeccaM says:

    And deflect.

  20. Naja pallida says:

    There’s a shortage of many drugs that have a limited profit margin. Including name brand stuff, and even biologics that the companies have a complete lock on the patent of. Wyeth decided it wasn’t going to produce coral snake antivenin anymore in 2003, simply because there has never been a large demand for it, and it’s expensive to produce. But it’s still something that may not be needed often, but when it is needed, it is needed. Pfizer, who owns the patent now, has been pressuring the FDA to just keep extending the existing vials best before date (all existing antivenin expired in 2008), so it seems like there is enough supply, but since incidents of snake bites are so random it is impossible to say whether it is adequate or not. Someone could die, because they don’t want to spend the money to make the product they hold the exclusive patent on.

    There are other cases, where there are more effective, but more expensive, drugs, especially in the case of directed antibiotics. Where there is typically a shortage of the specific targeted antibiotic, because they’re not needed as often so have a more limited overhead… so they end up treating with broad spectrum stuff that is more readily available and cheap to produce. This common method of treatment has also lead to bad things for antibiotic resistance.

    Pharmaceutical companies are literally playing with people’s lives all in the name of cost-benefit analysis.

  21. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    What’s particularly ludicrous about the system of tying health insurance to employment is that everybody hates it. Everybody. Workers hate it because they’re always having to worry about whether they’re actually going to be insured through their jobs or whether they’ll have any continuity of coverage if they change or lose their jobs. Employers hate it either because it’s a legitimately burdensome expense or because it’s just another one of those regulations that seems to bring out the worst in spiteful and vindictive management. Nobody has anything good to say about this terrible scheme…and yet all of our health care “reforms” have been shaped around this rotting, hated architecture, patching it up with things like tax incentives and COBRA. It’s insane.

  22. Timothy Sipples says:

    There’s quite a bit of evidence that malpractice lawsuits have little to do with medical costs. That experiment has already been run: some states (e.g. Texas) have severely limited malpractice awards. Studies comparing states (and controlling for other factors) show that if there’s any cost reduction with limiting malpractice claims, it’s tiny. Moreover, it’s not at all clear that limiting what victims of incompetent doctors receive is a price worth paying. That is to say that we shouldn’t be trying to get cheap medicine. We should instead be focused on getting value-for-money medicine.

    While the video erred on that point, it’s good that the video highlighted the overwhelmingly major reason there are too many unnecessary procedures performed: fee-for-service medicine. Quite simply, doctors and hospitals get paid more when they do more under the current system.

  23. Silver_Witch says:

    I did not know about 9 now I will have to go read up on that!

  24. Silver_Witch says:

    John Green has a great video as well (maybe you posted before here – I can’t recall where exactly I found out about it). It was great – like this one.


  25. Naja pallida says:

    12 is even sillier than that. At least in that case it is legitimately a different formulation. Some companies have actually taken the exact same drug, just changed the dosage requirements, and have been granted an entirely new patent as a new drug.

  26. pappyvet says:

    anything to redirect

  27. Actually, $40,000 surgery in US vs $7000 in Spain. Let’s say the average American has a $6000 deductible and then a %30 copay. So in Spain they’d have no US insurance coverage and pay $7000. In America, they’d pay their $6000 deductible then pay 30% of the surgery – and even if the “allowed” amt of the surgery were only $13k, 1/3 would be around $4k. Aoi add that to $6k ande you’ve got $10k. There’s still a question of whether you’ve got a maximum annual limit on your acct, and whether your deductible goes into that. There’s also the point that you’ve been paying premiums of, say, $500 a month for that insunrance, so you just paying $6000 more this year for that too. There are lots of reasons why one would comparison shop in Europe – my retinal detachment surgery was a little over $2k in Paris, it would have been over $20k in America.

  28. Keep looking for that dark cloud :)

  29. AtticCrazy says:

    It’s too bad the guy who is so educated about healthcare pronounced “etcetera” as “eckcetera”.

  30. David Gelman says:

    How about –
    7. Even if patients could shop prices, would they when they are paying primarily copays or deductables?
    8. Docs are not held to a national standard of the care they provide. They are held to the standard of what other docs in their locality would provide. If every other doc is over-ordering, you have to, too, or you’re not following the local practice standards.
    9. Employer-provided insurance. The US is the only (nearly the only?) developed country where a large proportion of citizens are ensured through their employer. And the only reason we have this is by historical accident. Businesses had to compete for employees during WWII, and they were not allowed to adjust their wages, as the government set limits. But if wages were fixed, benefits were not. And so, businesses started to offer sweet benefits, including health insurance…
    10. High costs to docs – the cost of medical training, board certification and maintaining a medical license, cost of malpractice insurance for docs for reasons touched upon by the video
    12. Drug company practices – I’m not against the drug companies making back their money, but practices like reformulating a known compound (like prilosec which is a mix of two isomers of the drug) into an near perfect copy of itself (separating out the active of the two isomers, which is nexium) and getting this “new” compound another full cycle (7-14 years) of exclusivity seems a little ridiculous.

    As far as unnecessary tests, most patients understand that validated, research-backed guidelines might not warrant imaging (for back pain or sciatica, to rule out ankle fracture if the exam and history is low risk for fracture, for neck imaging or head CT scan after fall or trauma) but then as a patient (or as a relative of a patient) we demand these tests for ourselves and loved ones. And docs, under time pressure because of cost pressures, have two choices. They can spend the 15 minutes or more having a conversation with a patient or family about why unnecessary tests are risky (you find incidental stuff that isn’t dangerous but requires further testing to prove it, some of those tests are invasive and carry additional risk, you may have higher exposure to radiation and additional risk for cancer, etc) or wasteful (you’d treat things the same way even if there was a hairline fracture). Or they can just order the test. When I have a patient that wants a test which carries risk, I’ll have the discussion, because I’ve sworn to do no harm. But if they want a test that’s not harmful to them but may be unnecessary and would take a long time to try to convince them of that, I have, in the past, just ordered the test….

    Until we’re all in this together (i.e. single payer or payor, depending on your preference) and until all docs are protected from repercussions while following published and _nationally agreed upon_ guidelines of care, then the costliest “medical device” may remain the physician’s pen. It’s what writes for all the costly tests, procedures, and drugs.

  31. Phred says:

    Also tangential: 6b, there are shortages of generic drugs because there’s no profit in making them. A pharmacist at the hospital where I work told me yesterday that there’s currently a shortage of normal saline, i.e., the salt water mentioned in the video. A few weeks ago, they had a shortage of sodium bicarbonate solution–baking soda. The expensive patented stuff is still easy to find.

  32. Drew2u says:

    Tangentially related: South Dakota’s in the running for “The South of the North”


    Section 1. This Act is intended and shall be construed to further the compelling
    5 governmental interest of protecting the free exercise of religion by way of conscience.

    6 Section 2. Nothing in the Act is intended to burden any person’s or personal business’
    7 freedom of religion including the right of a person or personal business to deny services if
    8 providing those goods or services would be contrary to the person’s or business’ sincerely held
    9 religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.

    10 Section 3. No person or any personal business may be required to provide services,
    11 accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization,
    12 formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if such
    13 action would cause any such person or personal business to violate the person’s sincerely held
    14 religious beliefs.

    1 Section 4. No refusal to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges
    2 protected by this Act gives rise to a civil or criminal claim or cause of action or any action by
    3 the state or any of its political subdivisions to penalize or withhold benefits or privileges,
    4 including tax exemptions or governmental contracts, grants, or licenses, from any protected
    5 person or personal business.

    6 Section 5. Any person who brings a civil action against a person or personal business
    7 protected by the provisions of this Act may be subject to an award of punitive damages by the
    8 court.

    Looks like it’s fundraising season in South Dakota for their legislators, lol

  33. UncleBucky says:

    Need bullet points. Hahaha!

    Insanely problematic
    1. Inflated costs.
    2. Unnecessary test.
    3. Frivolous Malpractice Lawsuits.
    4. Inability to compare prices for standard or even specialized services/treatments.

    And to that I will add a couple more:

    5. Hospital construction that includes way too much marble and fancy fixtures.
    6. Big pharma that has a lock on important life-saving drugs and treatments.


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