In 2019, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Vice Chairman Charlie Munger made a scathing comment on the state of healthcare in the United States, declaring that the entire system was going awry and that it was utterly absurd.
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But Munger was far from finished. In a recent video posted by CNBC in February, the billionaire and prominent critic of escalating medical expenses took another jab at the disordered U.S. healthcare industry, dubbing it a global shame.
Munger lambasted the exorbitant costs of American medical care and insurance, stating that it was a disgrace. According to him, if you visit Singapore, you’ll see that they do everything more efficiently and at only 20% of the cost. He went on to say that everyone has failed, pointing to the track record of mishandling the cost of medication in the United States.
In the video, Munger expressed his uncertainty about the path required to bring the U.S. healthcare system in line with Singapore’s, attributing the difficulty to those who hold onto excess funds like “fierce tigers.”
Although Munger’s immense wealth allows him to pay for high-quality healthcare out of pocket, his critique remains relevant to the general public. For the majority of people, reducing healthcare costs necessitates advocating for oneself. It’s crucial to research insurance policies, compare costs and negotiate medical bills to avoid overpaying for care. Munger’s statements are a reminder that healthcare reform is imperative for the United States to ensure that healthcare is affordable and accessible to everyone — regardless of their economic status.
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Some of the biggest names and Silicon Valley innovators have made some headway in this market. Amazon.com Inc. has slowly been rolling out healthcare-based alternatives. Amazon rolled out Amazon Care, but it has since closed down. Amazon still has its ‘Clinic’ & ‘Pharmacy’, which has seen some success. Their clinic gives access to medical advice and online clinic referrals for various treatments. And their pharmacy allows patients to order deeply discounted generic drugs online and sent to their doorstep.
Virtual-based treatments like Amazon Clinic have been growing in popularity as well. Aura Health, for example, is one of the largest marketplaces for mental wellness in the world. The startup is already used by more than 7 million people and used to help bring coaches and therapists to patients in need. The startup recently launched a community round, which means anyone can invest, and their investment page says they have over 100,000 paying subscribers, further showing the transition to these models.
Mark Cuban also has an innovative startup looking to compete with Amazon. Cuban rolled out “Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs Company” in 2022 to help reduce prescription costs for anyone in need.
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A recent report by The Commonwealth Fund, an independent research group, sheds light on the startling reality. Despite spending more on healthcare than any other high-income country, the United States has the lowest life expectancy at birth and the highest rates of multiple chronic diseases. The report also highlighted that the U.S. has the highest rates of avoidable or treatable deaths and the most significant number of maternal and infant fatalities when compared to peer nations.
In response to these alarming findings, the report’s lead author, Munira Gunja, senior researcher for The Commonwealth Fund’s International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovation, emphasized that the American healthcare system is not working as efficiently as it should. To catch up with other high-income countries, Gunja asserted that the administration and Congress must focus on expanding healthcare access, taking assertive action to control costs and investing in health equity and social services that can lead to a healthier population.
While tech solutions like Aura Health, Amazon Pharmacy and Mark Cubans startup are a step in the right direction, it’s likely not enough. These certainly help with mental wellness and medication, but without more action taken to reduce runaway healthcare costs, things could get much worse.
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This article Billionaire Charlie Munger Labels US Healthcare A ‘Disgrace’ as Report Shows Lowest Life Expectancy Despite Highest Spending originally appeared on Benzinga.com
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