Jun 14, 2019

The U.S. has the worst patients in the world

It's easy to criticize the U.S. health care system for high spending and poor outcomes, but American patients may also be the problem, the Atlantic's David Freedman writes.

What's happening: One study found that 74% of the variation in life expectancy within the U.S. was attributable to lifestyle factors like smoking and inactivity — behaviors decided by patients, not doctors. And American patients don't like to be told they can't have expensive care, using more speciality care and emergency care than other countries.

  • A survey of 1,000 patients recently found that only 31% view cost as very important when making a health care decision.
  • Other countries often exclude expensive, unproven treatments from health coverage, but "when American insurance companies try this approach, they invariably run into a buzz saw of public outrage," Freedman writes.

The bottom line: Americans are often over-treated, but doctors say that's because patients demand it — and that they fear malpractice lawsuits.

  • And then there are patients who disregard what their doctors say — like failing to take their prescribed medication.

Go deeper: Drug pricing's "double whammy" for patients with chronic illnesses

Go deeper

Sanders to Putin: You won't interfere in any more elections if I'm president

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the debate stage Tuesday, stating, "If I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections."

The big picture: It was unveiled last week that Russia has been interfering to boost Sanders' campaigns in an apparent attempt to strengthen President Trump's bid for reelection. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States, and that's why Russia is helping [Sanders] get elected.

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to keep his momentum after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates are just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They're talking about health care, Russian interference in the election, the economy and race.

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