Statements such as”don’t touch my Medicare” or”everyone should have access to state of the art health care irrespective of cost” are in my view uninformed and visceral responses that indicate a poor understanding of our health care program’s history, its current and future resources and the funding challenges that America faces going forward. Let us try to take some of this emotion from the debate by briefly examining how healthcare in this nation emerged and how that has shaped our thinking and culture about health care. With that as a foundation let us look at the pros and cons of this Obama government health care reform proposals and let’s look at the concepts put forth by the Republicans?
Access to state of the art health care providers is something we can all agree is a fantastic thing for this country. Experiencing a significant illness is one of life’s major challenges and also to confront it without the capacity to cover it is positively frightening. However, as we will see, once we know the facts, we’ll discover that achieving this target won’t be easy without our individual participation.
These are the themes I will touch to attempt to make some sense out of what’s happening to American healthcare and the measures we can personally take to make matters better.
A current history of American health care – what’s pushed the costs so high?
Key elements of this Obama health care strategy
The Republican perspective of health care – free market rivalry
Universal access to state of the art healthcare – a worthy goal but not simple to accomplish
what can we do?
To begin with, let us get a little historical perspective on American healthcare. This is not meant to be a tired look inside that history but it will provide us an appreciation of the way the healthcare system and our expectations because of it developed. What drove costs higher and higher?
To begin, let us turn to the American civil war. In that war, obsolete tactics as well as the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to induce ghastly results. Not commonly known is that most of the deaths on each side of that war were not the result of actual combat but to that which occurred after a battlefield wound was inflicted. To start out with, evacuation of the wounded proceeded at a snail’s pace and this caused severe flaws in treating the injured. Second, many wounds had been subjected to wound care, related surgeries or amputations of the affected limbs and this often caused the onset of massive infection. So you may survive a battle wound only to perish in the hands of medical care providers who though well-intentioned, their interventions were frequently quite lethal. High death tolls can also be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and ailments in a time when no antibiotics have been. In complete something like 600,000 deaths happened from all causes, over 2% of their U.S. population in the time!
Let’s jump to the first half of the 20th century to get some extra perspective and also to bring us up to more contemporary times. Following the civil war there have been stable improvements in American medicine in the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical procedures and also in health care education and training. But for the most part the very best that doctors could provide their patients was a”wait and see” approach. Medicine could manage bone fractures and increasingly try risky surgeries (currently mostly performed in sterile surgical environments) but medications weren’t yet available to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths stayed caused by untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or associated complications. Doctors were increasingly aware of heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they’d nothing with which to treat these ailments.
This very basic review of American medical history helps us to understand that until quite recently (around the 1950’s) we had practically no technology with which to deal with severe or even minor disorders. Here’s a critical point we need to know;”nothing to treat you with means that visits to the physician if whatsoever were relegated to emergencies so in such a scenario costs are curtailed. The easy truth is that there was small for doctors to offer and consequently virtually nothing to drive healthcare spending. Another factor holding down prices was that medical treatments that were provided were compensated for out-of-pocket, meaning by means of a people personal resources. There was no such thing as health insurance and certainly not health insurance paid by an employer.
What does healthcare have to do with healthcare costs? Its impact on healthcare costs has been, and remains to this very day, absolutely enormous. When health insurance for families and individuals emerged as a way for corporations to escape wage freezes and also to attract and retain employees after World War II, almost overnight a fantastic pool of money became available to pay for health care. Money, as a result of the availability of billions of dollars from medical insurance pools, urged an innovative America to increase medical research attempts. More Americans became insured not only through personal, employer sponsored health insurance but through increased government funding that made Medicare and Medicaid (1965). In addition financing became available for enlarged veterans healthcare benefits. Finding a remedy for almost anything has consequently become very rewarding. In addition, this is the primary reason behind its huge selection of remedies we have available today.