The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘healthcare’

REVELATION

Several years from now in America …

Due to the full implementation of Obamacare many medical professionals have either emigrated or left the practice of medicine.  As a result, even candy stripers are being pressed into service to perform some of the more mundane tasks with regard to patients and their needs.  What follows is a story about them.

Three very young nurses’ aides were in the hospital hallway awaiting their next assignment.  The senior ward nurse asked if they were familiar with prepping a patient for surgery.  “Mr. Robbins in Room 207 Bed 7 is due to undergo abdominal surgery in several hours and needs to be shaved before the procedure.”  All three of the young ladies said they had received training and one of them, Jeanine volunteered to prepare the patient.

Jeanine went in to Mr. Robbins’ ward.

Several minutes went by and Jeanine came out of the room and was blushing.  Her two friends asked what had caused her embarrassment.  She said, “When I was preparing Mr. Robbins, I couldn’t help but notice that on his “member” he had a tattoo.  It said, “Shorty.”  When I saw it I could hardly stop from laughing and I thought before I broke out into a guffaw I should leave the room.

Her two co-workers thought it was ridiculous that any man would choose to have a tattoo placed there so a second aide, Marta said she would take over for Jeanine and finish the job.

After several minutes in the room Marta came out, her face as red as Jeanine’s.

Jeanine said, “See, didn’t I tell you?  His tattoo says ‘Shorty’.”

Marta said,  “Well no it doesn’t.  Mr. Robbins got a little bit excited and I saw the full tattoo.  It says, “Shorty’s Bar.”  Jeanine’s eyes widened but the third young woman, Alicia didn’t believe any of it and thought her two friends were playing a joke on her.  So she decided to see for herself.

She went into Mr. Robbins’ room and in a few minutes stumbled back through the door and passed out on the floor.  When she was revived, her two friends asked her what happened.

Alicia, still gasping for breath said, “Girls, the tattoo actually reads, ‘Shorty’s Bar And Grill, Albuquerque, New Mexico’.”

I thought I would offer you a laugh to begin this post because what follows is anything but funny.  It is the story of how nationalized health really works when services are rationed.  It is the story of future medical “care” in the United States.

THE UNITED KINGDOM … TODAY

Following is a story about the “Liverpool Care Pathway.”  I was shocked when I read the article and would advise that it will be disturbing to those who are sensitive and might feel queasy reading about the way medical practitioners in the UK “euthanize” new born infants.

I became aware of this because of a re-blogged post I saw on www.Oyiabrown.com.  This blogger has helped broaden my perspective by offering a European view of the world and is a follower of mine and vice versa.

Before clicking on the link below to the story, let me repeat that this is not something that the faint of heart will want to read – as much as it needs to be read by all of us in America because I believe this will be our future under Obamacare.  Please understand that is not a political statement – it is a logical one.

Incidentally, this same procedure for ending the lives of elderly patients is followed as well.

I am not one of those single issue people whose lives revolve around Pro-Life or Pro-Choice issues.  I have clearly stated my position on the subject in many posts and explained my reasoning.  Some of you agree and others do not.  I respect your right to hold your opinion whatever it is.

I see abortion as a subset of a far deeper and more dangerous philosophy.

As I have cautioned, when we are willing to trivialize life (even the potential of life as in the case of an embryo), it is a short step for us to lose perspective of our humanity and to engage in the practices that the story describes.

I celebrate life in all its forms, human or animal or vegetable and even extra-terrestrial should I live long enough to encounter our brothers in space.  I have contributed financially to organizations that encourage animal conservancy and protection for many years.

To me it is amazing that many of those in that movement will go to extremes to preserve the egg of a Spotted Owl – which, of course, only has the “potential” of becoming an owlet yet do not extend that protection to a human embryo and even worse to a baby who has been birthed.

To me, greater than the one written by St. John the Divine, that is a true Revelation about who we are as a species.

http://vineoflife.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/now-sick-babies-go-on-death-pathway-doctors-haunting-testimony-reveals-how-children-are-put-on-end-of-life-plan/

I invite your comments.

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GET ON THE BANDWAGON

People go into business for an opportunity to better themselves and their families.  I believe it would be fair to say that no one develops a business plan which is designed to guarantee failure.  But sometimes that happens.

Consider the company that manufactured horse-drawn carriages.  Things are going along nicely, the company offers a quality product at a good price – and then along comes Henry Ford with that darn horseless carriage thing.  All of a sudden a thriving business becomes a thing of the past.

If the business of medicine truly had our welfare at heart, it should be encouraging us to use their services as little as possible.  A well-crafted wellness system would mean that we would rely on their expertise in the case of accidents, congenital conditions, some surgical repair work and very little else.

I realize that this will sound bizarre if you have the mindset that every time you have a sniffle you need to consult the man in the white coat with the stethoscope.  But let me offer an example from one medical discipline which nearly put itself out of business.  It’s called Dentistry.

As a child I remember going to the dentist in order to have a cavity filled.  I still remember the sound as the pulleys turned the drill – that horrible screeching sound followed by the smell of burning calcium as the head made it’s way into my tooth.  Like most people, I viewed a trip to the dentist’s office as an excursion into horror.  We consulted the dentist because we had a problem – much in the same way we go to see the doctor today.

But dentistry evolved.  It turned from being a reactive profession to a proactive one.  It learned that we could easily prevent many of the problems that people of my generation experienced through a regular regimen:  brushing, flossing, regular cleanings and checkups.  Much of the practice today consists of routine maintenance and cosmetic procedures.

The number of cavities which are treated, thanks to these preventive steps, have declined by nearly 80% since I was a child.   That’s good news for patients – not such good news for dentists.  But they have adapted to the effects of their own good work and most of us are smart enough to see the dentist at least twice a year for our regular checkups and cleanings – and perhaps an occasional tooth whitening.

So if a proactive approach to dental health seems effective, why is it that medicine has not adapted the same strategy?  I can only conclude that there are two reasons for this.  The first is hubris and the second is money.

The fundamental premise of our approach to healthcare is to wait until a problem develops and then attempt to correct it.  It is the exact opposite of what dental science realized was the most effective way to deal with dental disease – avoid it in the first place.

Then we treat the condition with a primary emphasis on doling out drugs, 90% of which do nothing  to address the underlying condition but merely treat the symptoms of the condition – and most of which have side effects that are as hazardous to our health as the disease for which we sought treatment.

I suspect that if you were to ask anyone who is on a “drug therapy regimen” if they would prefer treating their symptoms or getting rid of the disease for which they are taking them, they would universally opt for the latter.  But that is not what modern allopathic medicine provides.

So where does hubris come in?  It begins with that little prescription pad that sits on your doctor’s desk.  Only she can put down the magic words that will enable you to start on a life of servitude to the pharmaceutical industry.  That gives your doctor a great deal of power which most of us lack.

As to the subject of money – there is no question that the root cause of many of our economic woes are generated by our healthcare system.  Medicare and Medicaid are rapidly moving us to the brink of insolvency.  That is not my opinion but rather the consensus of virtually everyone familiar with the subject.

There are many who want to attack the symptoms of the problem by reducing the massive amount of fraud in the system and that is a good first step.  But that is merely a temporary fix applied to a system that is based on an illogical premise.  The concept of waiting for disease to develop and then trying to treat it rather than the proactive approach of avoiding it in the first place simply doesn’t make sense – unless you’re a pharmaceutical company.

What would happen if we turned our emphasis to education and to implementing policies which would encourage people to eat nutritious meals, to engage in a regular program of healthful exercise and to avoid doing things that have been shown to be harmful to our health?

What would happen if our public schools only provided healthful choices in their cafeterias for our children at lunch?

What would happen if each of us took primary responsibility for our health and well-being?

I believe the answer is that over time, we could greatly improve our health and avoid many of the conditions with which we burden the medical system.   We would need fewer doctors and fewer hospitals and fewer pharmaceuticals.  And we would need to worry less about figuring out a way to pay for all of them.

Of course, the key to all of this is our assumption of personal responsibility.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of that going around in America today.  We all have excuses which are mouthed by our political leaders and the man on the street.

Rather than embark on a long-term program of self-improvement we prefer the quick fix of popping a pill and thinking we will wake up the next morning looking glamorous and muscle-bound.  Check out the infomercials on early morning television if you question the truth of that assertion.

Is there a way to begin on the road to wellness?

As a starting point, what if we got a rebate from our insurance company if we took an annual physical?  What if we received a rate quotation from our insurer based on our personal use of the system – the more use the higher the premium and vice versa?  What if the government subsidized nutritious foods reducing their cost and making them more appealing financially to the consumer – and taxed foods which were highly processed and contain little nutritional value?

(I do hate the thought of governmental involvement but they are already involved.  At least we could redirect the efforts of some in the bureaucracy to something that would have long-term benefits).

There is a specific reason I began this post by talking about the advent of automobiles – because, like cars, our bodies are machines – though far less durable.

If we are negligent in our driving practices, exceed the speed limit, breeze through red lights or fail to maintain our vehicles properly, we are far more likely to be involved in an accident.  We know this is staistically true.

If you have ever had a driver hit your car you know what ensues from that incident.  You have to deal with claims adjustors, drive your car to a body shop, pay a deductible and rent a car.  All of this is a hassle which could so easily be avoided.

In most cases, your car can be repaired.  If the damage is too severe your insurer will “total” the car and then you have to deal with finding a replacement.  And herein lies the difference between our car machines and our body machines.  Bodies are one to a customer.

Dentistry has proven that prevention is far more cost-efficient than treatment.  And it’s a lot more comfortable for the patient.

Isn’t it time that the medical establishment and the government got on the bandwagon?

THE OXYMORON

We are all familiar with phrases which are composed of two words that seem to be inherently contradictory such as “Jumbo shrimp.”  We describe this as an oxymoron.  Occasionally we find one word which has the same characteristic and it is to that we turn our attention today.  The word I would like to examine is “Malnutrition.”

Of course, “Mal” means bad while the part of the word to which it is attached, “Nutrition” is something that sustains us.  When we use this word, our minds often gravitate to graphic images of children in the third world.

We have probably all seen pictures of infants and children so lacking in food that they have understandably become the poster children of private agencies asking that we send donations to remedy their horrible situations.  Even as a child I was moved to start making a monthly donation to CARE to help these poor kids.

Many years later it is still the same story.  There are children (and adults) who do not eat enough or nutritiously enough on a regular basis.  This problem is not limited to the third world – it exists in America as well.

The reason that millions die of starvation every year is the same as it was when I was a child.  Our ability to procreate exceeds our ability to provide.  And in the United States we encourage this overpopulation with its inevitable resultant consequences as a matter of both social and fiscal policy.

Consider our distribution of supplemental funds to those living at or below the poverty level in this country.  How much does a recipient receive on a monthly basis?  That is determined as a function of how many adults and children are in that particular family.  Each additional child provides an additional income.  Sadly the poor are often the uneducated and there have been reports of some recipients intentionally bearing more children simply to get the additional monthly stipend.

Our income tax laws also promulgate this same sort of “reward” for people with large families.  Each additional dependent provides an additional deduction from Form 1040.  Apparently the Congress which crafted the Internal Revenue Code subscribes to the biblical injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Nutrition or, if you prefer, malnutrition is at the fundamental core of the problem that we euphemistically call, “healthcare.”   Now that the Supreme Court has decided that Obamacare’s dictate that most Americans purchase health insurance is a Tax, I would like to explore a few ideas on how an informed health-Tax policy might actually set us on the road to becoming a healthier nation in the future

We tax cigarettes and alcohol for one stated reason – they are supposed to be “bad” for us.  The fact that both the Federal and State governments derive huge amounts of revenue from these taxes is corollary to my argument.  Nor am I alleging that the use of tobacco or alcohol are good.  I accept the statement that they are deleterious to our health.

With the high court’s ruling,  we have potentially embarked on a new era of taxation in order to support our healthcare system.  It would be beneficial  if medical scientists and nutritionists would develop a list of other things that, like smoking and drinking, are bad for us and which we might tax.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has already correctly identified one of those.  That is soda (or pop) depending on where you live.  He has put forth several proposals that would either tax each soda sold in the city or limit the quantity that could be sold to a consumer in one purchase.

The reason is that refined white sugar (or perhaps even worse, artificial sweeteners) have long term detrimental effects on our health.  I’ve attached a link that outlines the history of refined white sugar’s role in the advancement of slavery as well as its harmful effects when consumed over long periods of time – but there are many others which come to the same conclusion should the reader wish to explore this subject more fully.

http://macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm

If I were to go with one of the Mayor’s proposals it would be the first one.  Add a tax to the cost of each soda that is sold, whether at the supermarket or at restaurants.  This may surprise some of you who realize that I write from a Libertarian point of view – supporting yet another government tax.  But I view this as consistent with my principles.

I believe that everyone should be free to do whatever he or she wants without government intervention or interference – up until the point that their behavior affects me.  At that point I have the right – no I have the responsibility – to get involved in the conversation.

It is clear that the explosion in so many chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular problems could be greatly reduced if we made good dietary and lifestyle choices.  The failure to do that on the part of some of our citizenry affects all the rest of us in terms of the cost and availability of our healthcare.  Just as we penalize smokers and alcohol users, the same logic should apply to diet.

There are many who probably do not understand the effects that their food choices have on their health.  Obviously government does understand this since it now requires the listing of ingredients in products, the number of calories that a particular item contains, the amount of saturated and non-saturated fats that can be found in a meal to cite a few examples.

There are certainly many who, despite the fact that they realize their food choices are unhealthful, continue to make those same choices.   Bad habits are hard to break – particularly if we have held to them for long periods of time.  And while I give credit to the fast food industry for introducing more healthful choices for their customers, I suspect that those represent a fairly small portion of their overall sales.

It would have been difficult to advance this argument with any hope of success as few as ten years ago.  You can imagine the reaction from the soda giants, Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola (which today will still lobby strongly against it).  But whether it was simply a matter of expanding their line of products or because they realized that the handwriting might be on the wall, both of these now sell bottled water which has been a fast growing segment of their businesses.

The longest journey begins with a single step – and we have a long way to go before we become a healthier nation.  Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to tax carbonated beverages is that first step – and one in the right direction.

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HEALTHCARE? SURELY YOU JEST.

As I was watching CNBC yesterday, the CEO of CIGNA Insurance was interviewed. In the course of the conversation he said that “64% of all Americans are overweight and 35% of us are obese.” I didn’t check the facts as he stated them but I figure that since this is his business he probably knows what he’s talking about. (I don’t know what the definition of “obesity” is – but it’s probably like pornography – you know it when you see it). And here in Las Vegas you see it a lot.

When I first moved here I found that the buffets were an affordable and convenient venue for dinner. I enjoyed the variety of foods from which I could select and the fact that I had to do no cooking or cleanup. Unfortunately, after a couple of months of consistent buffet dining, I also put on 20 pounds. So I took stock and said that I could continue to dine at the buffet but I had to limit my intake and make intelligent selections in the foods I put on my plate. Otherwise I was going to have to replace my wardrobe with clothes in larger sizes.

While I had gained those 20 pounds in only two months it took me four months to shed them. But I did – while still enjoying my evening buffet meals. I am reminded of this because tomorrow is Thanksgiving – the national Holiday celebrating the existence of carbohydrates and over-eating. It is the perfect excuse for those of us who have a tendency to over-consume to do so with perfect impunity. And I’m sure many Americans will take full advantage of that opportunity.

This brings us to the question of health and “Healthcare”.

In this writer’s opinion, whether it was before or after the passage of “Obamacare”, the USA does not have a “Healthcare System”. What we have is a “Disease-Maintenance System.” In other words, we wait until our unhealthy habits have brought us to a critical state adversely affecting our health. Then we go to the doctor who prescribes us one or more different pharmaceuticals (all of which have nasty side effects and 90% of which merely treat the symptoms rather than the underlying problem). And so we embark on a life-long relationship with the large pharmaceutical companies – providing them with an annuity because we didn’t take care of ourselves in the first place. 

The good news is that many of the conditions which we have brought on ourselves can be mollified or eliminated if we replace our bad habits with good ones. That, of course, does require resolve and discipline. 

I am reminded of one of those “common sense” statements that Grandma used to say to me, “If you have your health you have everything.”

Let me share another quote with you. 

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

What idiot could have uttered those words? Our “healthcare system” operates in exactly the opposite manner – and with “Obamacare” we are hoping to ensnare even more people in a system that has proven itself to be filled with excessive costs and inefficiencies.

Well, the fool who made that statement was the man whom Time Magazine recognized as “The Man of the 20th Century” – Thomas Alva Edison.

So as we sit down to our dinner on Thursday let’s keep in mind that we don’t have to over eat – unless we choose to do so. We can ask for a half size slice of pie – or even skip dessert entirely. Our health ultimately is within our own hands. Let’s hold on to it with a firm grip.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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