Johnson breaks down five major issues with health care in U.S.



Dr. Timothy Johnson began pondering the problems of the United States health care system in the last five years of his career as chief medical editor for ABC News. He began to shift his coverage from developments in medicine such as news drugs and devices to problems with the health care system as a whole.

“I started to realize how devastating the problems with American health care are in terms of impact on people, especially those without insurance,“ he said.

Johnson, now retired, worked for ABC News for 25 years, providing medical analysis for “Good Morning America,” “World News,” “Nightline” and “20/20.” In his 2 p.m. lecture today in the Hall of Philosophy, Johnson will look at five major issues he finds with health care in America today, focusing on what’s wrong and how to fix it.

Americans spend twice as much per person on health care than those in all other developed countries, he said.

“Where does all that money go?” he asked.

One major problem, Johnson said, is the unrealistic expectations of American consumers. Patients who demand the newest technology and treatments for as little money as possible are creating what he called a formula for financial disaster.

Many Americans fear government involvement in the health care system, but every other developed country in the world with a successful system utilizes some type of federal government involvement, Johnson said. He will discuss the appropriate role of federal assistance in health care in his lecture today.

As an ordained minister, Johnson’s medical practice is very influenced by his Christian faith. Though he won’t be performing a lengthy sermon in today’s lecture, he will discuss the morality of health care reform. Should health care be a right or a privilege?

“I have always believed that people who call themselves Christians — or followers of Jesus, as I prefer — are automatically obligated to be very concerned about the poor in general,” he said.

Finally, Johnson will present his prediction on what will happen if the U.S. health care system isn’t reformed, as well as how to avoid that outcome. As the system stands, too many people fall between the cracks, he said, and a lack of clinical information isn’t the problem; the system just doesn’t know how to handle people without health insurance.

Johnson pointed to the millions of Americans who live without the security of health care. He said it is a tendency of those with Medicare — himself included — to think narrowly about changes in health care that he believes are necessary for a healthy future.

“While we may get through relatively easy,” he said, “if we don’t make changes, our kids and grandkids are going to be doomed.”