My father was one of the most generous people who ever lived on this planet. He would help out anyone if it were within his power, whether or not he knew or liked the person. I guess in today’s parlance, you would call him a chump.
I don’t know how many times he and I were out walking and a “bum” would ask him for a hand out. Dad never refused one of these men the change he had on him – or if he had none, a small bill or two.
His generosity extended to everything he did – how he treated his employees and how he contributed to charities in which he believed. Although he did not subscribe to the tenets of the Salvation Army, he always made a point of dropping a five or ten dollar bill in their red kettles during the Christmas Season. As he pointed out, “During the Great Depression, they were the only organization that would give away free donuts to those who needed something to eat. The only one.”
I offer this not as a paean to my father but to put in context something that he said many times. It was the reason that he refused to give money to “charities” whose work consisted of trying to eradicate some particular disease.
When asked by a friend if dad contributed to The American Cancer Society, he replied with an emphatic, “Absolutely not. If they actually found the cure for cancer, they would suppress it. There are too many people who make a living from fund raising for them ever to let that cure be released to the world.”
Now that may sound cynical to you – but if you stop to think about it for a minute one thing should be very clear – particularly in light of all the conversation centered around Obamacare. We know that the health care industry represents approximately one sixth of our economy. That includes doctors, dentists, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers, pharmacists and, of course, prescription and non-prescription drugs. And as large as it is now, it can only grow bigger under Obamacare as we add a new layer of bureaucrats to try to mis-manage it further
If you’ve read this blog for any period of time you realize that I normally reference “health care” under the more accurate name “disease maintenance”. Put another way, our drug-therapy-centric system merely ameliorates the symptoms that our various maladies cause. Ninety percent of our drugs treat symptoms (sometimes with devastating side effects) but do nothing to correct the underlying physical condition. If you question the truth of that statement ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Since we have classified so many different forms of cancer, let me offer the easier example of diabetes to illustrate my point.
We know that in the U. S. we have an outbreak of diabetes which is nearing (and will soon reach) epidemic proportions. To call this a plague is not to over-exaggerate. We also know that the adult version of this disease, Type II, most often results from the dietary choices we make throughout our growing years and our adult lives.
This is a crippling and a chronic illness. It has significant implications for those who allow it to go uncontrolled which may result in amputations, blindness and nearly always has severe impacts on cardio-vascular health (another chronic illness). So how do we deal with treatment for those who have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes?
Is our emphasis on educating these patients on the foods which they should be eating and those which they are to avoid? Yes. That’s about ten per cent of our treatment. But ninety percent of our treatment is establishing them on a regimen of blood monitoring and dispensing insulin to control their condition.
The medical industry doesn’t make a lot of money selling its patients on the idea of going to the grocery store and loading up on fruits and vegetables. In fact, it makes none. But it does make a lot of money selling blood glucose monitors and diabetic supplies.
The following is what the American Diabetes Association (ADA ) has to say about this disease:
The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 is $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. The largest components of medical expenditures are hospital inpatient care (43% of the total medical cost), prescription medications to treat the complications of diabetes (18%), anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies (12%), physician office visits (9%), and nursing/residential facility stays (8%). People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of about $13,700 per year, of which about $7,900 is attributed to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. For the cost categories analyzed, care for people with diagnosed diabetes accounts for more than 1 in 5 health care dollars in the U.S., and more than half of that expenditure is directly attributable to diabetes.
If the ADA’s analysis is correct, last year we spent over $52 Billion as a nation on prescription medicines to “treat the complications of diabetes” and on anti-diabetic agents and diabetes supplies. That, by virtually anyone’s standards, is a lot of money – spread over a lot of companies that manufacture and distribute these products and which support a lot of people who are their employees.
Where is the incentive for our medical professionals to cure this disease when those who treat patients with diabetes collectively earned $20 Billion last year in office visits from those who suffer from this malady? Or for our hospitals to do all within their power to eradicate this disease which earned them revenues of over $75 Billion?
This isn’t a matter of rejecting the common logic and practice of medicine as we find it in this country. This is merely a matter of applying common sense to a nonsensical way in which we treat disease and asking, “Why would ‘health care professionals’ pursue a path that does not cure but merely ameliorates the symptomology of a disease?” If you can find an answer to that question that is something other than “money” or sheer ignorance, please share it with me.
In all fairness to our doctors and others in our medical establishment who are devoted to providing quality patient care and who make that their first priority, I believe it is only honest to say that even if they were to get on my bandwagon and to insist that their diabetic patients observed a life style and eating regimen that might resolve this medical condition, it is likely that only a small percentage would do so.
We have developed a mind set of entitlement and immediate gratification. We pop a pill to lose weight or so that we can achieve an erection and we smear our faces with creams that we hope will take years off our appearance. And the drug and cosmetics industries, recognizing our weakness, feed our human frailty with “newer and bigger and faster and more effective” products to satisfy our laziness and vainglory.
Perhaps, even if for all the wrong reasons, the country is beginning to wake up to the perils that Obamacare presents. Perhaps there is a stirring among at least a few of us that we do not have trust in the government to make wise decisions about our health care and that ultimately the responsibility for staying in good health falls neither to the bureaucrats nor to our doctors but is ours and ours alone – because we are the only “me” that is now, has been or ever will be on this planet.
Perhaps, something good will come out of our objection to Obamacare. Hopefully, it will be an awakening that the individual has responsibility for his own life and his own actions and will not allow an impersonal government to make decisions which rightly belong to each of us and to each of us alone.
If that were to occur to enough people it might start a revolution of thought and action which would make the Founding Fathers proud of the great experiment that they set in motion nearly two hundred fifty years ago.