You have to wonder how executives at GlaxoSmithKline sleep at night?
Yesterday the British drug manufacturer agreed to a civil settlement with the U.S. Government in which they will pay $3 billion in fines — the largest health care fraud settlement in that country’s history.
GSK admitted to misbranding antidepressants and marketing them for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That included marketing the antidepressant drugs to children despite warnings of an increased risk of suicide for children under 18.
In Quebec patients are being told to wait two years for public care or pay $10,000 to have their surgery within two weeks with the same specialist.
Many specialists in Quebec work both sides of the street, with one foot in the public system, another in the private.
Are specialists deliberately dragging their heels on public appointments to pad their private practice?
Quebec’s Health Minister says the practice of inflating waits in the public system to push patients into the private system is untenable and has asked the College of Physicians to investigate.
The Montreal Gazette reported a year ago that such practices were taking place. They documented the case of a patient at Charles LeMoyne Hospital who couldn’t get an appointment with a specialist for two years, but could walk across the street and get an appointment with the same physician within two weeks.
According to “Health Care for America Now” (HCAN), the combined profits of the biggest health insurance companies in the US increased by 51 per cent during the recession and its aftermath. This may have something to do with premiums which rose by 131 per cent since 1999 – twice the rate of medical inflation.
As a percentage, insurance companies are spending less of the premiums on medical care and more on administrative costs, including extravagant CEO pay, marketing, lobbying and what HCAN describes as the “care-denial bureaucracy.”
Under the consumer protection provision of the US Affordable Care Act, as many as nine million customers will be eligible for rebates totalling as much as $1.4 billion.
In the first quarter of 2011 the combined profits of the five largest American insurance companies surged 14 per cent to $3.6 billion.
The US has the least efficient health care system in the developed world. Is it any wonder?