CCHS Dean, T.R. Reid talk health care on WVUA

When T.R. Reid, Washington Post journalist and author of the best-selling book, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care,” visited The University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa community, he sat down with WVUA and Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, to talk about healthcare in Alabama and the United States.

The WVUA News Special aired as spots on Dec. 15, 16 and 17 during its 5 p.m. newscast and culminated with an airing of the full 30-minute program at 6:30 pm on Dec. 16.

Watch the full special here:

Reid’s visit to UA and Tuscaloosa was hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences, the College of Communication and Information Sciences and the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.

In the first spot, Reid and Streiffer discussed how Alabama ranks low in health care in the U.S., and that the U.S. ranks low among countries like it around the world.

“I think Americans don’t realize how cruel our system is,” Reid said. “If people knew that 25,000 of our fellow Americans die every year of treatable diseases because they can’t see a doctor, we’d fix that, we’d do the right thing. People just don’t want to be believe we are letting people die for failure of seeing a doctor, but it happens every day in our country.”

Watch the first installment, which aired Dec. 15, here:

In the second part of the WVUA News Special, the topic was health care costs: Why does the U.S. spend more on health care than any other country, yet yield poorer outcomes?

“I think the main reason is the sheer complexity of our crazy quilt system,” said Reid”We have dozens of different payers—everybody’s got their own forms, everybody’s got their own rules, and other countries don’t do it that way. In other countries there’s a price for a medical procedure, and it’s the same in the north, south, east and west.”

Watch the second installment, which aired Dec. 16, here:

The third installment focused on preventive care: More than 50 percent of all preventive services that are recommended in the U.S. don’t get delivered to patients, Streiffer said, and he asked Reid why and how it compares to other countries.

“Because our payment system is so fragmented … the insurance company doesn’t have that much interest in keeping you healthy,” Reid says. “By the time you’re sick, you’re the next guy’s problem, or you’re Medicare’s problem. Whereas a system where everyone is in cradle to grave, they want to keep you healthy so they don’t spend all that money later.”

They also talked about how employers are investing in prevention efforts, as they are often the ones who cover costs for health insurance.

Watch the third installment, which aired Dec. 17, here:

Research Roundup: A Slimmer Tomorrow

There is not a single, simple solution to fix the nation’s obesity problem. That’s why University of Alabama researchers take multi-disciplinary approaches to the challenge – approaches that frequently focus on children.

“As a country, we’ve become more and more obese over the last several decades, and Alabama is one of the more obese states,” says Dr. John Higginbotham, a UA College of Community Health Sciences epidemiologist.  “Obesity strikes all kinds of people, but it seems to be more prevalent in rural areas. It also seems to be more difficult to address such health-related conditions in rural areas.”