The county around McAllen, Texas, on the Mexican border, has the lowest household income in the United States. And health care costs in McAllen are nearly the nation’s highest — almost double the national average.
Surgeon-journalist Atul Gawande went to McAllen to figure out why. What he found was doctors systematically milking the system — running up fees with a philosophy that put wealth before health.
America is drowning in health care costs. Here may be a reason why.
This hour, On Point: Atul Gawande on American health care costs off the rails in a Texas town.
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Atul Gawande joins us in our studio. He's a surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a staff writer for The New Yorker. His most recent article for the magazine, "The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care,” appeared in the June 1 issue. He is also on the staff of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has published two books, "Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance" and "Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science."
Joining us from McAllen, Texas, is Lester Dyke, a cardiac surgeon in McAllen who has performed more than 8,000 heart surgeries in the last two decades. He is quoted in Atul Gawande's New Yorker article as a critic of what's happening in his county.
This program aired on June 3, 2009.