Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Health Care Too Big To Fix?

Is Health Care Too Big To Fix?

We have a democratic president, elected by a landslide vote, and a democratic majority in the House and Senate, proposing a single payer solution for health care reform that is widely supported by a vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans. Yet that reform legislation faces an uphill battle and is unlikely to pass in any significant, game-changing, way.

What’s wrong with that picture? Power and influence as exercised by vested interests (the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex), their money, and their lobbyists.
These vested interesting have successfully blocked all attempts at health care reform for over 70 years, and are working hard to do so now. But, in today’s world, there are additional, complicating factors that make me wonder if health care is too big to fix.
Health care represents the largest sector of the American economy. That is, that it generates more money and employs more people than manufacturing, or any other sector of the economy. “Health care accounts for $1 in every $6 spent in the United States -- and costs are climbing at twice the rate of inflation.” Our biggest business is taking care of our sick and, for obvious reasons, is one of the only business sectors with projected growth.
To that extent, what city or town would shun new jobs created by any of the players in the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex? Or, perhaps even harder to imagine, what city or town would be willing to lose jobs, in our current economy, due to potential down-sizing of any aspect of the health care sector? And, hardest to imagine at all, what politician would ever make that pitch in his/her district?
The driving force of health care is how sick so many of us are. Our disease-focused culture and lifestyles have resulted in misguided and erroneous beliefs about, and expectations of, the capabilities of our health care to both provide for all of us and miraculously cure us at a cost we can all afford. We created a for profit health care delivery system that feeds on sickness to produce profits, pay dividends and project constant growth.
We are addicted to both our unhealthy lifestyles and the disease care, yet we are surprised by our diseases and the costs of care.
It is really a pretty straightforward and simple equation: increasing numbers of sick people with increased access to a for-profit, growth driven health care delivery system will continue to drive up costs, no matter who pays.
Any effective reform will have to be both dramatic and quick; not unlike the introduction of Medicare, which was efficiently instituted nationwide in less than a year, before there were computers.
In order to succeed, reform will have to include drastic changes in both the delivery systems and the way we pay for it, in addition to, drastic changes in our lifestyles and culture to promote health and wellness.
It is a complex and dangerous web we have woven. Ultimately, we are lead to believe that the Banks and Wall Street and are too big to fail and health care is too big to fix.


Dr. Sardonic said...

I just heard that the latest Republican proposal to solve the healthcare problem involves something called Soylent Green. It sounds very promising; it's green, and it involves recycling. That should give those AMA fat cats something to chew on!

Anonymous said...

Health and wellness are an individuals responsibility. Why should we put our health in the hands of money hunger big business.

A system that rewards individual health choice, based on standards and measures setup around a health and wellness model. You live well, you're rewarded with cheaper health care premiums. You live bad, you're rewarded with higher health care premiums.

This method will make individuals seek health and wellness and personal responsibility first, and still provide critical care functions when needed, but at a more feasible rate.

We need more education on health and wellness issues to become more available (like the billions spent on advertising prescriptions drugs) and those with the "right" message to be recognized both with accredidation and financial rewards.

Therefore a different driver needs to steer the ship.

J Peck