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The 5 biggest myths about U.S. healthcare

Bill RoperBill Roper, dean of the School of Medicine, CEO of UNC Health Care and vice chancellor for medical affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, discussed the five biggest myths in health care at the “Business of Health Care: Adapting to an Aging Economy” conference hosted by the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Myths and realities

Myth: America has the best healthcare system.
Reality: Although the U.S. ranks as one of the highest nations in the sense of treatment and diagnostics, that doesn’t mean that we are the best healthcare system. You have to look at all the parts, including coverage and access. America actually ranks 37th in the world in healthcare according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Myth: Everyone gets the care they need eventually.
Reality: This is false because millions of Americans are left out of the healthcare system completely. To receive Medicaid you have meet a significant amount of stipulations. Those who don’t qualify but still are unable to pay for insurance with their own money are left with no coverage and no means to pay for their medical bills.

Myth: It doesn’t matter which doctor or healthcare facility you go to.
Reality: There is a difference in the quality depending on the area you are in, the type of hospital it is, and the schooling the physicians received.

Myth: The cost of healthcare is not a problem.
Reality: Costs are a huge problem and deterrent for people seeking the medical attention they need. The national government spends over $3 trillion per year on healthcare, which is crowding out education spending.

Myth: If you like your care the way it is, nothing will change:
Reality: Everything is changing – within the world of healthcare and outside of it.

More realities

  • Cost: Money really does make the world go around and no matter who you are – patient or provider – you are always looking for lower medical bills.
  • Continued focus on coverage: There needs to be continued conversation and change in government policy and corporate structure to expand the number of people covered by effective insurance.
  • Quality: If we identify quality caregivers and providers, we can send patients to those providers and bring up the level of health across the nation.
  • Consolidation: Doctors and hospitals are choosing to create larger organizations by merging with neighbors. For example, in 2017 UNC Health Care announced a partnership with Carolinas Healthcare System. There have not just been examples of vertical merges, but horizontal ones too, as with the CVS-Aetna deal.

By Emily Brice (BA ’18)