posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:17 AM
The president has stated he has two goals in advancing health care reform. 1) to cover people who are not covered, and 2) to slow or stop the rising
cost of health care.
Assuming the 45-50 million uncovered people is an accurate number, then at least 2 alternatives present. First, the US government could advertise for
bids from insurers to cover those people. At $10,000 per person, that comes to $500 billion. Very expensive, but a simple solution beyond belief.
Second, the US Government could create a “fall back” insurance agency, which anyone could “buy” into. A “health” tax would be added to
your FICA now at 7.65% matched by employers total 15.3% of payroll. Let us say we start the “health” tax at 5% and matched by employers. Total of
10% would be collected. Any shortfall would of necessity be made up out of the General Fund.
How to lower the rate of increase in health care will not be so easy. Putting everyone’s health care information in a giant data base accessible by
any legitimate provider would be a start. While that is easy to do electronically, the issue of security of the 300 million or so individual patients
is not so easy.
Another cost increasing habit we have slid down the slippery slope into over the past 40-50 years, is the lack of or shortage of general or family
practitioners and the over-supply of specialists. Because in part it is so easy to base reimbursement payments on procedures performed, and not so
easy to give value to a quiet sit-down with your family doctor for some “grandfatherly” medical advice on life types, and etc.
Another way to save, and I’m not sure how often this would apply, is duplicating tests. Once I had a very sore knee and I could barely walk on it.
With a relative in the health care system I was able to get into my regular doctor that same day. My good fortune continued as the weekly visiting
orthopedic surgeon was also on the premises. He saw me and ordered an old fashioned x-ray of my knee. Because in part I am an old person, he found
signs of arthritis on my knee joint but he said it should not cause my complaint. He ordered a MRI, that miraculous machine that can look inside of
Good x-ray machines cost $50-$100,000 to buy and the price of film and a technician to operate. When MRI machines first became available they were
priced at $1 million. That was 20 years ago so I do not know if a new MRI machine costs MORE or LESS today. I do know it can be operated by a
technician without a MD on the premises. In any case, I had a MRI done on my knee. Because the patient must remain stationary for several minutes
holding the knee in a particular position, I can tell you IT HURT! How much? Well, I said to myself if I have to undergo any more MRI, I’m taking
TWO shots of Jack Daniels (Black Label) before I have it done!
The MRI revealed I have no cartilage on the moving parts of my knee. That explained the pain. I got one shot of cortisone in the knee - painless - and
LOST 120 pounds, and I am no longer bothered by a sore knee. If I had not lost that excess weight, I would very likely have had a knee replacement.
And this is a problem that raises America’s health care costs by some huge amount. Maybe as much as 30%! So what do you do for that?
We have an example to look at. Tobacco. Tobacco was a new world plant. One of the first items the early explorers took back to Europe was tobacco. And
the habit of smoking it! By the 1930s tobacco was a cash crop for millions of farmers. Grown primarily in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and
Connecticut, those states managed to get far more than they otherwise would have because the US Senate is organized on the seniority basis. In the
1930s era of the New Deal, the 8 senators from the states I have mentioned exerted great control over the laws enacted by the Senate. Part of what
they did was “take care” of their constituents.
After statically proving that tobacco causes cancer, we have almost eliminated smoking as a health factor here. We have nearly taxed it out of
existence, at least in our country. Whether it is ethical to make a product here and send it aborad where it can kill the users is apparently an open
question although I fail to see how it can be a question at all.
Aside: Tobacco and alcohol kill about 500,000 people every year in the United States. Heroin and coc aine kill fewer than 5,000 people a year. So
which two do we make illegal and which two do we make legal?
SOLUTIONS? It is obvious to me that the issue of FAT and SALT are paramount in the nation’s general health. So how do we restrict or even HALT the
abuses of FAT and SALT practiced by the FAST FOOD industry that we all use?
How about a TAX on fat? Say, a dime (10 cents) per gram. How about a TAX on salt? How about a nickel (5 cents) per 1000 milligrams? Look up your
favorite fast food items and see how that tax would effect you. Would you slow down or change to items with less fat and or salt?