10 Myths About the US Healthcare System

A number of pervasive myths surround our sick-care system. Unfortunately, these myths aren't bedtime story material. They're more like nightmares.

There are 5 purposes to myths.

1. To explain how things came to be

2. To teach lessons or values

3. To unify a group or define a group's identity

4. To explain social or religious rituals

5. To entertain

Nothing is more entertaining than talking about the myths of the US Sickcare Inc., particularly during a presidential election cycle, which, these days it seems, is forever.

Some of the more entertaining myths are:

1. The US healthcare system is actually about keeping people healthy.

2. Having insurance means having access to care.

3. Doctors are willing and able to treat patients and provide access to care regardless of who is paying them and how much.

4. There is one US healthcare system. In fact, there are at least 3 tiers—mass care, middle care, and 1% care—and those 3 tiers are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

5. Medicare and Medicaid payments can increase as much as voters want them to without any impact on our national debt or global competitiveness.

6. All patients will get the same access, outcomes, and experience.

7. Most of what doctors do will be replaced by robots, machines, and software, so why worry about any predictions of a manpower shortage.

8. There will always be an abundant supply of undergraduates willing to ride the student debt bubble to be a doctor.

9. Social Security, Medicare, the Veterans Administration, and other vested interests are immune from substantive change and will remain third rails. The only time you can touch them is when they break and you don't have to worry about getting electrocuted.

10. The clinical half-life of the average full-time doctor will be the same as it has been for the past 100 years.

It's no wonder we all love bedtime stories. The problem is what happens when you start having nightmares after you've gone to sleep.