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Posts tagged ‘health care’

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)

I was reading this article about how upset the Harvard professors were over the changes to their healthcare plan. I have to admit a certain amount of malicious enjoyment as major universities, such as Harvard, were behind the impetus for the Affordable Care Act. Like congress, I guess they wanted to make laws that would only affect the “other guy”.

Faculty members were quoted as “not being concerned for themselves, but for less well paid employees”, and “It’s the principle”. No, lets face it, any time you give something to someone, there is an outcry when you take it away. The fact that they are the elite of American society, living in a world where they are largely sheltered from the realities of poverty and having to make ends meet makes their belly aching less palatable. The objections they have are what the rest of us have been living with for years. MOST healthcare plans have high deductibles and copays.

I say “why not?”. We need insurance to pay every time we go to the doctor? How about save that sort of transaction for those horribly expensive things, like surgery, cancer, etc. I know there are those who would argue that health care should be free, a right. The sad truth is, nothing is free. Every “free” thing you have ever gotten was paid for, just not by you. Why don’t we educate doctors for free, then they won’t have high debt, so won’t need high salaries? Why don’t we pay their malpractice insurance, relieving them of that cost, so they can distribute their services for free? Why don’t we pay pharmaceutical companies for their R&D, so they don’t have to charge large amounts for their medications? If those ideas sound ludicrous, why then do we insist someone else should pay at the other end?

When all this health care debate started, I had hoped to see some of the basic issues addressed. Insurance distorts the cost of health care. The insured person has no idea what the cost of something, but doesn’t care because he’s not paying it. The insured and the providers have this weird dance going on of formulas and partial payments, obscuring the real cost. Without a direct market, there is no competition, no advertised prices and a huge chunk of the medical cost goes to insurers, who are not directly involved in health care at all.

If you pay 2,000 dollars a month to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and only use 50$ of that for your health care, does the other $1,950 go to another subscribers bills? Not hardly. Not when insurance companies have enough profit to sponsor every last sporting event and charity in your community. While I don’t mind that they are using that money back in the community, wouldn’t be nicer to have that money to spend on health care? If we have to pay a parasitic third-party, why don’t they take all their profits and use them to open clinics in underserved communities? Or pay the outstanding medical bills for someone who is uninsured or underinsured.

The more we monkey with the system, the more cumbersome and less responsive it becomes. Look at our tax system. It’s all one big complicated game with real winners and losers. Health care is the same. Maybe these Harvard professors, now that they see how superficial the changes they championed are, will go back and lobby for some real change. Lets just make sure that we all experience the changes, that way if they don’t work, they will be quickly scrapped.

Let me know what you think. Does all this get your dander up, like it does mine? Do you feel common sense is sadly lacking in the higher echelons of power?

It’s no Surprise

Here is another great article on how our decreasing activity level has created the obesity epidemic. It isn’t any surprise, since NEAT-Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis- burns far more calories than the gym. What all this means is that we used to be more active all day long, and since we aren’t now, there isn’t that much you can do at the gym to offset it. Think about it, unless you are extremely ardent, you are only spending 3-5 hours a week at the gym, out of your 168. If you are spending a lot of the other 163 sitting, very few calories are being burned.

I also ran into this article on the top ten nations for life expectancy. While they attribute it to access to health care, they did mention low smoking rates. I’m all for good health care, but how about personal responsibility? Food is very expensive in Switzerland, so they aren’t as prone to overeating.  They also walk a lot. I can’t guarantee you will live a long life if you don’t smoke, eat right and keep your stress levels down, but it can’t hurt. The article also drove me nuts about insurance- I still argue that insurance doesn’t do anything but add a layer of bureaucracy, subsidies the health care industry directly, not an ancillary business that provides no benefit.

Go, seize the day and park far away from you destination. Don’t smoke and have a salad with chicken or salmon for lunch.

YES, Yes,Yes!

I just saw this article on doctors refusing insurance and charging people directly. and it makes me happy and mad at the same time.  The prices the doctors are charging patients directly are so much more in line with what people can afford compared to the cost of insurance. It makes me happy, because this is what I’ve been saying all along- insurance actually raises the cost of health care. Insurance companies are making a profit, doctors have to hire a slew of people to deal with the insurance and when people don’t see what something costs, the cost raises. The article states that dealing with insurance is 40% of a doctors overhead.

It makes me mad, as this is the discussion we should have had before enacting the debacle that is the Affordable Care Act. Affordable care is anything but. Lets go back to catastrophic insurance and pay for all the incidentals as we need them. Look what happens when people just pay for things up front and things HAVE to be affordable. We end up with 4$ prescriptions at the big box stores and doctors charging under 100$ for a visit. All we’ve done with this legislation is make things more convoluted and expensive. Affordable care? who can afford $700-2,000 a month on insurance?

Hopefully the debacle of the role out will cause people to rethink the whole thing, and the possibility of doing things this way will come about.  We want the government subsidizing things? Fine, let them subsidize the 20% of seriously ill people who use 80% of the services. That would make sense. Or let them create an insurance plan for catastrophic insurance, like they subsidize flood insurance for people who live in flood plains. Or, let them give grants for the preventative programs and screenings  that are the rational for insurance.

From “You Can” to “You Have to”

I know I just posted recently on the new easy, convenient prenatal genetic test that is just around the corner, but I can’t get it off my mind. The reason is what history is showing us. We have enjoyed many medical miracles in the last 50 years. The social impact of those medical changes has, in my opinion, gone unnoticed. The number one is the overwhelming trend from “we can” to “we have to”, to the point where it is considered immoral or criminal not to.

What am I talking about? Every medical advance, unless it is prohibitively expensive, and sometimes even then, becomes mandatory. Vaccinations are a perfect example. Now, don’t get me wrong, in general I am in favor of vaccinations. I’m very glad I never had whooping cough, measles, mumps, etc. However, vaccines are now mandatory. You could be charged for neglect if you don’t get your child vaccinated. Sounds good, right? Until we come up against the issue of inoculating children against venereal disease. The argument is out there that it should be criminal to not vaccinate children against HPV. This is a huge moral issue for many people, but for the pragmatists-because we can, we have to.

All right, I can see you still don’t see a problem with this. How about animals? You can now be charged with neglect for not getting proper veterinary care for them. What is proper care? 17$ monthly flea treatments? $35 dollar monthly heart worm prevention? How about 4-5 “essential” vaccines that might run you over $100 dollars. People are abandoning their animals rather than face those kinds of costs, or having them seized by the SPCA. Now shelters have to pick that cost up, and consider the outcry against killing animals, we have shelters being charged with neglect because they can’t afford to feed and care for all these animals to that standard. Because we can, we have to.

We can keep people alive under circumstances that were never possible before, with machines and medicine, yet we are complaining that health care is driving us to financial ruin. Most of these people being kept alive by extraordinary means are being done so by Medicaid or Medicare, as no one else can afford it. Because we can, we have to.

This same logic is driving abortion. If you can find out ahead of time that someone is going to need extraordinary care, abort them and avoid the issue. If you don’t think that is going on right this minute, look at the statistics on Down’s syndrome. Why has there been a 95% drop in the incidence of children born with Downs? Is it because we can cure it? Sure, by making sure they aren’t born. If you don’t think pressure is put on these mothers to “do something” if the test is positive, you have your head in the sand. Once we know something, we are responsible for it. Once we know more about the genetic status of an infant, it will become immoral to bring that child into the world. Because we can, we have to.

I can’t say I have a great answer. Our knowledge has brought us terrible burdens. When we talk about “Obama’s death panels”, we are dancing around a reality that none of us wants to delve into. We have the technical capabilities to do almost anything, if not now, shortly in the future. But that ability comes at a price that has to be paid somehow. Either the market dictates what is or isn’t done, or we come up with other ways to ration or rationalize it. Right now, to most people, abortion looks like the easy fix. Get rid of the expensive problems in advance, rather than deal with the thorny issue of limited resources. But why is killing people at one end of life all right, but letting them die at the other wrong?

This moral dilemma weighs on me a lot. “Because we can, we have to” drives much of the health care debate, but anyone can see there is no way to satisfy that. What is happening to our animals is happening to us. We can’t afford it, the governments can’t afford it, but morally, how do you say no? And is killing our children the answer? When life and death were in God’s hands, it was sad and hard to deal with, but we were off the hook, morally. We took all these things into our hands, putting us in the moral hot seat. It makes me glad I’m not God, because I don’t see any good answers, at least in the short term. I usually like to write articles where there is an answer in the end. I like to ask questions I have an answer for. This one, I have no answer for, but I think we are coming up with “solutions” without even looking at the implications of what we are doing, especially morally. We are killing the babies since that seems like the easiest answer. You don’t have to look at them- you can pretend it isn’t real. You don’t have to look someone in the eyes and pull the plug. We’ve rationalized it into not even being killing.

I am Forced to Rant About Healthcare.

This blog is my outlet for my rants when my loved ones get sick of listening to it. The whole issue of health care is one of my rants, but I have avoided talking about it for the most part, since it is pointless, no one in power even hints at my position. After hearing what is going on with several of my friends, I have to talk about it. You can say our current system is broken and needs to be fixed, but I think that is like asking the fox to fix the hen house.

Medicare has a part A and a part B. According to the older people I have been talking to, Part A is what you get automatically when you turn 65. That only covers hospitalization. Part B is what the government has been tinkering with, and you have to buy that, like regular health insurance. Depending on which plan you choose, the price and benefits vary. Now you can get Part B subcontracted through regular insurance companies. According to my sources, if you buy Part B insurance at age 65, it is around 150$ a month. If you wait, as they have done, till you are in your 70’s the price jumps to over 1000$ a month. The rational is that those who bought at 65 having been paying in over time, while the late comers will draw more than they pay. You could easily argue that those who bought it at an earlier age have also been using it more, so it evens out, but that is not the governments reasoning. My friends said that barring serious illness, it is cheaper to pay the doctor.

Which brings me to my point. I think all that we have been doing so far is silliness. Why is the government dealing with health insurance at all? Rather than pay insurance companies, and add a layer of bureaucracy to the whole mess, why not subsidize health care directly? Pay all doctors a flat salary, say 50,000$ a year. They could then charge a sliding fee on top of that, so that the poorest and richest could each afford to go. Make it illegal to not treat someone, regardless of ability to pay. Hospitals too, would get a base amount, to help keep them afloat, for treating the poorest people for free, or at a limited cost. Cap what they could charge, so greed wouldn’t get out of hand.

Universities already get billions in tax dollars and endowments, they are the ones creating new medicine.  Let them partner with companies to develop new treatments and drugs.

I’m not saying I’m all in favor of the government running the show at all. We seemed determined that that is the way to go. All I’m saying is if that is what we want, lets do it without lining the pockets of the insurance companies that exist for no other reason than to siphon money out of the health care system. They do what they do FOR A PROFIT. Which means they charge MORE THAN IS REQUIRED. Not to mention they don’t produce ANYTHING related to health care.

I’m Ok, Just lost my breath for a moment. Really, I’m ok. I AM calm.   Seriously though, I don’t see why this wouldn’t work better. I know why it won’t happen. It’s too big. Insurance, existing only to make money, has money. Money is Power. It would be like trying to slay Goliath to get rid of health insurance now. Not to mention that it is entrenched in our mental view of the world. No one even talks about affordable health care, only affordable insurance. We have blinded ourselves to the elephant in the living room.

If anyone out there can point out where I’m wrong, or has a better idea, I’m all ears. Please enlighten me. I don’t mind, I have plenty of other soapboxes to climb on.

This is What Inspires Me.

http://lifeintheboomerlane.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/ernestine.jpg?w=200&h=252I saw this article on the “Life in the Boomer Lane” blog. This is why I work out so much. Yes, I know genetics plays a part, but that isn’t the part I have control over. I do have control over what I do every day. I don’t want the last 10 years of my life to be drooling in my oatmeal, as much as I can help it. What you eat and do does matter. The choices you make every day do count.  The woman in this picture is 74 years old! Do I think her joints hurt at night? Probably. But people who do nothing still have achy joints.

I wasn’t going to post this picture, I thought it was too controversial. But I have so few readers, who cares? I was goingA treatise on healthy eating

A call to action

 to repost it on facebook, that is where I got it from, but I know it would ruffle a bunch of feathers. I do feel militant about healthy living sometimes because people do have control over their actions, and the repercussions are serious. Just like drinking or smoking, you don’t see the results until it is

too late. Remember the old saying “You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health”? I see so many people who spend their lives going from doctor to doctor, in pain, unable to do things. Many times we sneer at people riding “Larks”, as often they are seriously overweight. If you are obese, it is hard to move. Strap 100 lbs on and try and go for a walk. But that isn’t an excuse to do nothing, it is a reason to change. I know, I can rant and rave

all I want. Who cares? Will anyone read my words and make a decision to turn their life around? Probably not.

It just frustrates me, especially when we talk about health care and limited resources. How much money would we have to spend on unavoidable problems, like MS, MD or any number of other genetic, viral or bacterial problems, if we stopped creating health problems by eating poorly, not exercising, smoking and any number of other behavioral health issues. (I’m avoiding talking about sex.) Even some forms of breast cancer are being linked to being overweight.

Do you have any rants you want to add? Do you want to slap me for ranting?

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