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August 3, 2009

More-on Medicine!

Steven R. Berryman

Call me crazy, but I want to live longer, and into a fruitful old age. All events surrounding healthcare reform convince me of the opposite!


In the late 1970s future-world movie classic Logan’s Run, there was no issue with eldercare and Social Security expense: An indicator permanently embedded in everyone’s hand at birth began to blink red as one approached age 30.


At that point, all those coming of this age – called “Last Day” – had to attend a pseudo-religious event held in a large coliseum called “carousel” for their judgment day. Participants were levitated up into the air to a place where they could, in theory cross-over magically to some other place in their mythical culture…and live.


Or they could get zapped out of existence and disappear, in each and every attempt to win at carousel, as the system was a fraud.


The mythology of the movie kept hope alive for most participating in their domed Utopia of a world. If one “ran” away instead of participating at the end of their idea of a useful lifespan, the police of the state, called a “Sandman” shot you after you were hunted down, with a Hitler-like sense of compassion for your age.


Back to August 2009:


Congress is about to rush passage of comprehensive healthcare reform so they can recess to vacation. (Editor’s Note: The House of Representatives has already adjourned.) Solving healthcare intelligently obviously not being of large enough concern to debate the contents…


A member of Congress who shall remain unnamed was overheard commenting that under the new Obamacare health plan – ostensibly to fix costs – by adding extra funding into the Hospice Care system, we could solve both end of life expense and reduce paying out into the bankrupt Social Security plan as a side benefit!


Hospice Care offers pain reduction and facilitation of end-of-life work by those terminally ill. But under the financially-based program under consideration, the very definition of who is too sick to save, and the criteria, and what expenses are reasonable for extraordinary life-saving measures will be up to a government doctor with incentive to cut costs.


Presumably, additional funds paid into Planned Parenthood under the same Obamacare program could accomplish the same reductions in costs from the other end of the same problem!


Recently, a close family member in his mid-70s had a near death experience, and family members were advised on decisions to be prepared to “let him go” should his condition worsen.


He found his way to that decision point and, despite this advice, he was ventilated, brought back from the edge, and was functional and ambulatory with full mental function within a 45 day recovery window.


At the decision point, the doctor had been visibly unhappy with our choice to treat him instead of to “medicate.”


Under a revised Veterans Administration plan, he may have been directed to just die, his life not worth the costs.


But simply considering present issues:


Currently our family is covered under a Blue Cross group plan offered by SEARS. We have a family of five and are happy with our HMO Parkview Medical. How will Obamacare help me and my distinctly middle-American family?


We don’t know, as we have not been given any estimates of impact, and we are already satisfied. So, we must rely on logic and speculate rationally.


Under Obamacare:


Would our costs go down? NO. As others are brought into a government paid system for free, such as illegal-immigrants and the truly poor, how could they? The state of Massachusetts in their social healthcare experiment is going broke, and they are currently taking drastic measures to stop the money-bleeding by reducing coverage and liability.


Would the quality of our current care go up? NO. The only plausible ways to reduce costs significantly – making room for more insurance give-away is to reduce the numbers of procedures, and to deny care to the elderly after a certain age.


Would we get faster access to care? NO. With added layers of government control, approvals, and intervention, that would not happen. With additional free-loaders enrolled, that would not happen. Consider: Would we suddenly have more doctors?


Would access to certain types of care be denied? YES! Simply look at European Socialized medicine and its experiences. Hip or joint replacement is years away, treatment for cancers can be so long off as to be too late…any pacemaker delay could be fatal.


“The problem of healthcare in America” itself is still open for debate.


By all information at hand, we in America have the best quality of healthcare – by far – in the entire world, virtually by any measure!


Seventy percent plus surveyed are currently happy with their healthcare. So, why ruin it for everyone? I suggest a piecemeal approach to a solution.


*A small percentage of Americans are refusing to participate in medical insurance because they don’t think it’s a good deal for the money. Fine: Deal with them separately with a choice between joining-in to a current insurance plan, or paying a sin tax.


*A small percentage of Americans can afford insurance, but chooses the recreation vehicle and a week at the beach instead. Deal with them separately with a choice between joining-in to a current insurance plan, or paying a sin tax.


*A small percentage of Americans claim poverty and cannot afford medical insurance.


This group first must be purged of those free-loading the system. Unfortunately, this group uses up actual cash-costing medical services when included in programs at a rate three times higher than all the other insurance participant categories, due to lifestyle choices, nutrition, and so on.


But after filtering out the fraud, subsidizing this group of deserving folk, mostly just down on their luck, or serendipitously born into the wrong family…would be preferable to just completely upsetting and altering the very fabric of the medical system we have today.


And we know that President Barack Obama is not seriously trying to reduce the price of our healthcare as a priority, as he refuses to even touch tort-reform, as the factor bumping costs the most is easily sham-lawsuits and frivolous litigation.


Our president is in bed with the Trial Lawyer’s Association to be sure! Yet another paid-up campaign promise.


Now, take two aspirins, and call me in the morning.


[FYI, I’ll be on vacation next week]


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