When we left for our trip to the UK three weeks ago, the press was full of news about the high cost of EpiPens ($600) and the fact that Aetna was leaving the N.C. health insurance market. Our high cost of pharmaceuticals and health care in general is because we believe in free enterprise and capitalism and that the market will regulate itself. EpiPens cost so much here because it’s what the market will bear, and Aetna most likely left because it was unable to make enough money from providing health care in N.C.
Once in the UK, one in our group realized that his EpiPen was expiring. We went to a National Health Service clinic and within five minutes were advised about the process for obtaining a replacement. The cost would be less than $12, but because our friend was over 60, it was free.
I continue to be amazed that the U.S. is the only First World country that allows profit-making in every aspect of our health care system: insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, medical centers, medical devices, electronic health records, etc. We call it an industry, and many of us invest (directly or indirectly) in its different components. And it employs large contingents of lobbyists, for which we also pay. But our health status and mortality statistics are far from the top of the list.
When will we wake up and join the civilized world?