Monday, July 20, 2009

Health care debate misses the point.

There is all this talk these days about health care, but I think we are overlooking something very important in the discussion. People say we pay twice as much for our health care as other countries but have more sickness. People argue and worry about who will pay for all this sickness. These are not the right questions. The right question is: Why are we getting so sick?

We need a national campaign to get people healthy. If there is anything that the Nazi's taught us, it is that a good propaganda campaign can motivate the masses. As it is now, the government has no stake in our health. Right now there is a lot of money to be made (and being made) from the population being ill. In fact, the government has been complicit in our becoming unhealthy. By relaxing environmental protections, blocking proper labeling of food, allowing drug companies to do their own drug testing, promoting GMO's, putting dairy as a food group on the food pyramid when it has no place in an adult's diet, etc. There is money to be saved by jeopardizing the public health, and there is money to be made by selling sick people medicines. Big industry lobbies for the ability to poison us, then big pharma gets to sell us the remedy. If the state is giving away the remedies, they will want us to not get sick.

In China, they have a state supported health care system. I am not arguing that they have the best system (not necessarily even better than ours), but it raises an interesting point. When the government is paying for your health care, it is their best interest for everybody to stay healthy. This is why many Asian employers (in Asian and America) have their employee exercise on company time, why people in China are encouraged to go to the doctor at the first sign of illness. With our system, there is too much money to be made from us being sick. So we have developed this for-profit system to its breaking point. We now have too many people with too much illness for the system to support.

Diabetes is not a normal part of aging. Nor is cancer, high blood pressure, or any of the myriad malfunctions that are epidemic in our seniors (and younger). If the government is paying for the remedy, then they are on the right side of the equation; working for the benefit of the people. Lindsay Graham says that we don't want the government standing between us and our providers. Right now I have blue cross standing between me and my providers. If we have to have some type of middleman, is it better to have one who is NOT allowed to make money, or one who's sole purpose is TO MAKE MONEY. Now I concede that the government is not always the most efficient machine (think of road crews where one man in deigging a hole and four men are paid to watch him), so there will need to be good oversight of the program. But I don't hear congresspeople complaining about the government running their health plans. I do hear most Americans complaining about their health plans though.

90% of your medical expenses will be incurred in your last 10 years of life. It does not have to be this way. To control costs, we do need to make the system more efficient, but we also need to reduce demand. If we can unburdon the system, we will all get better care and need less of it. We need to get ourselves healthy again. The government should help.

I believe that health care should be a right and be provided by the government. The government is of the people; a healthy government needs a healthy populus. One necessary component of the system is that doctors should be well paid. Doctors, nurses, medical techs, and especially acupuncturists should be well compensated so that these professions can attract the brightest minds. Medicine need not be a million dollar a year profession, but it should pay well.

Another problem with the system is insurance. A graduating obstetrician in Illinois pays over $100,000 for malpractice a year. Hospital costs are inflated by the outrageous insurance costs they incur. This is from unrestricted court awards. Doctors should be expected to try their best to help. No medical person can ever guarantee a good result. If they are not overburdened, and if they went into medicine for the right reasons, they will do their best for every patient. If they do that, they do not deserve to be sued if things do not turn out well for the patient.

Chinese medicine is suited for treating and preventing disease in a cost-effective manner. Whatever health care plan we adopt should include chinese medicine and its preventative techniques.

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