What's your life worth? Healthcare in the United States can bankrupt you, demoralize you—or actually kill you. Healthcare economist David Smith grew up in a Mormon community in Utah, and lost his father, sister, and brother to the same deadly epidemic. He’s spent his career exploring whether their deaths were preventable and how we can make health a priority for everyone. On The Cost of Care, David and his guests – patients, medical experts, and policy makers – reveal how the wealthiest nation on earth ended up with one of the most expensive, worst-performing health care systems in the world and provide solutions to fix it, together.
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The Cost of Care podcast's subject is in its title. The US healthcare spending is now more than $4 trillion per year. That's more per person on healthcare than any other Western country. But on average, a US citizen dies ten years earlier than people in Hong Kong. It is the country with the highest life expectancy. This podcast seeks to explore the inner workings of this scheme and where it all went wrong.
David Smith, the host of The Cost of Care, has a heartbreaking experience with healthcare. When he was a teenager, his dad got diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. He dealt with pain every day and saw multiple doctors to try and manage it. One doctor decided to prescribe him opioids. This resulted in addiction. With an unfortunate chain of events, the parents separated, and the father overdosed. The addiction passed to Smith's two siblings as well, which he also lost in a span of a few years. Smith witnessed the biases and failings of the healthcare system in the worst way possible. He learned how a person's economic status and upbringing affect their health care.
Smith's story is a big part of The Cost of Care podcast. It opens the show and provides the narrative for the first episode. The host's experiences led him to pursue a career as a healthcare economist. So it makes sense that the two intertwine in this podcast. As the show evolves, Smith opens up the scope to examine the system as a whole.
He discusses how hospitals and doctors make a profit with practices like upcoding. The show explores the difference between having insurance and not and explains who benefits from it. Smith studies gender and race biases through the birth stories of BIPOC mothers. Doctors, economists, and journalists give their suggestions for improvement. Together they also provide advice for the listeners on how to navigate the system. New episodes of The Cost of Care are about an hour long and air monthly.