US Health Care System

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Creation Date August 30th, 2019
Updated Date Updated November 27th, 2020
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Episodes about the unusual health care system in place in the United States
  1. For decades, hospitals could assume that patients with jobs and health insurance would pay their medical bills. That’s no longer the case. We speak to one woman about her skyrocketing medical costs — and the aggressive new way hospitals are forcing patients to pay up. Guest: Sarah Kliff, an investigative reporter covering health care for The New York Times, speaks with Amanda Sturgill, 41, whose health care provider took her to court in Virginia. For more information on today’s episode, visit Background reading:One in four Americans have skipped medical treatment because of the cost, and nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency. Meet some of the employed and insured Americans who cannot afford health care.The American health care system is not the norm for developed countries. Here’s a look at how socialized and privatized systems compare internationally.Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care? The 1619 Project found that the answer is linked to segregation. 
  2. Dr. Robert Grant developed a treatment — a daily pill known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — that could stop the AIDS crisis. We look at why that hasn’t happened. Guests: Dr. Grant, who has been working on H.I.V. treatment and prevention for over 30 years, and Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science and health reporter for The New York Times. For more information on today’s episode, visit Background reading: Gilead Sciences, the maker of Truvada, the only drug approved to prevent H.I.V. infection, will donate enough of the drug to supply 200,000 patients, but critics questioned the company’s motives.The high cost of drugs remains a major obstacle to ending the AIDS epidemic.Here’s more information about PrEP from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
  3. How could an ER visit in which a patient receives nothing more than a Band-Aid cost $629? Sarah Kliff, a health policy reporter for 'Vox,' spent over a year reading ER bills and investigating the reasons behind the high costs. Emergency rooms have a facility fee, which can range from the low hundreds to the high thousands, where the patient pays essentially for just walking through the door. Kliff will also talk about the GOP's latest attempts to cut back Obamacare, and what a Medicare-for-all plan would entail. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews two books about forgotten stories from Hollywood's past, 'The Lady from the Black Lagoon' and 'Giraffes on Horseback Salad.'
  4. Travis Rieder became dependent on opioids after a motorcycle accident in 2015 that crushed his left foot, and forced him to endure six surgeries. His book 'In Pain' draws on his insights as a patient, and his subsequent research into pain medicine, to examine the larger problems and dilemmas surrounding prescription opioids and the larger opioid crisis.
  5. Black Americans were denied access to doctors and hospitals for decades. From the shadows of this exclusion, they pushed to create the nation’s first federal health care programs. On today’s episode: Jeneen Interlandi, a member of The New York Times’s editorial board and a writer for The Times Magazine, and Yaa Gyasi, the author of “Homegoing.”“1619” is a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones. You can find more information about it at
  6. States and cities across the United States are reporting dangerous shortages of the vital medical supplies needed to contain the coronavirus. Why is the world’s biggest economy suffering such a scramble to find lifesaving equipment?Guest: Sarah Kliff, an investigative reporter covering health care for The New York Times. For more information on today’s episode, visit Background reading: The scarcity of ventilators has become an emergency, forcing doctors to make life-or-death decisions. The collapse of a government effort to produce an emergency stockpile reveals much about the challenges now being faced in fighting the pandemic.This map of the United States shows gaps in the existing health care infrastructure — and which areas may face a shortage of hospital beds as the virus spreads.

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