Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Talkin' 'bout health care

What follows is a discussion on a friend's facebook page about universal health care. It's just what I wrote so it may seem a little disjointed:

As one of those that had no health care (going to school full time, paying for it outta pocket, and working full-time waiting tables, which of course doesn't offer health insurance) and then broke his elbow (meaning he couldn't work any more); I can assure you, those millions of us CANNOT afford the $30,000+ to pay for healthcare. I owe more in ... Read Moremedical bills than I've made in the last two years. Thankfully I went to Japan, where they do have universal healthcare, and I received great treatment at a fraction of the cost in the States (wisdom teeth pulled out and weekly treatments for a month all for less than $800). Now I'm back in the U.S. and I am shocked at the rhetoric against universal healthcare. How can we not afford to invest in those that make this country great, the people of this country?

Just saying: the #1 reason people over 40 years of age file bankruptcy is medical bills. A quick google search of bankruptcy and medical debt gets these:

1) American Journal of Medicine:
"Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92% of these
medical debtors had medical debts over $5000, or 10% of pretax family income."
2)Medical Debt Huge Bankruptcy Culprit:
3) Medical Bills Leading Cause of Bankruptcy, Harvard Study Finds

The U.S. spends more money on its military than EVERY OTHER COUNTRY COMBINED. Why can we afford to spend money blowing stuff up but can't spend money helping our own citizens live?

The real quality of health, ask any doctor, is measured in prevention. The most common thing doctors recommend for maintaining health is exercise and regular check-ups. On this account the U.S. health care system is hopelessly flawed.

What we have instead is a heroic model where we have the most expensive people and equipment to intervene when the... Read More intervention itself optimizes health the least.

Universal health care isn't about making sure everyone gets their own kidney dialysis machine, it's about making sure people don't need dialysis machines by encouraging people to do simple, cheap things, like visit a doctor one a year.

Going for regular check-ups isn't going to happen if parents have to choose between feeding their children for the next two months or sending themselves for an annual screening. In Okinawa we were required by law and by our employers to get an annual check-up. Karen was required to go more frequently because she has female parts. Had I been older I too would have had to go more frequently. Lesson: to change health culture you have to make access universal and create incentives for compliance.

As to eating bad foods:
You're going to think I've gone off the map but this is directly related to changing cultures.
Did you know that the Federal poverty rate is determined by a family's ability to ingest calories? It's true. What do you do, then? You get the most calorie-rich food you can find. What would that be? Yup, high fructrose corn syrup... Read More. It's ubiquitous, and thanks to three decades of gov't corn subsidies (by politicians touting the families first motto) it's not likely to go anywhere.
What's the result of 30 years of corn subsidies? A significant increase in "food" (if the development of Cheetos counts) production, yes, but a reduction in the nutrient distribution in the caloric intake of American families.
It's the most efficient thing in the world to feed families with bad-for-you food, and since we're defining poor as being able to get access to this food, no surprise that we have a positive feedback loop, like a snake eating its tail.

1 comment:

  1. I don't disagree at all but one thing that plays into the situation is something my brother-in-law told me about his native South Korea. He says that while health care is universal there and it's generally a great system, if you have something really serious like a tumor there will be a good chance the doctor will either (a) recommend you to a foreign doctor, (b) admit that he's not skilled enough to perform the operation or a combo. He says the majority of the world's best doctors are here because they can get paid more.