A half page ad in the Sunday paper by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield starts with this headline:
“Think health care is expensive now? Wait until after reform. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield supports sustainable health care reform.”
WHO DOESN'T. Perhaps that's the basis of the premise that the ad is working on. But it also says, “the proposed federal legislation is not it.”
O.K. What it is? We are then referred to some report in small print. Who's going to look for and read the report?
The object of the ad is to get you to tell your congress members that you want “reform that promotes lower cost for all”. Great! How do we do that, when the very insurance industry that this announcement represents has been raising my insurance premiums for years?
The cost of health care is going to go up regardless of what the system is. There are several built-in cost-increasing factors. One is that medical care is increasingly dependent on high cost technologies which cannot but help increase the costs.
I've been experiencing what goes on inside a hospital for the last three weeks. Those who know me, know that I'm constantly observing what goes on around me and that I'm just as regularly commenting on those observations.
Most of the patients that I saw in the hospital are obese and/or in their elder years. These are two of the most costly classification of patients for any system. Longevity just for the purpose of living longer has its costs. And we have an aging population which will for years be increasing these costs.
There are certain other inflation factors beyond those caused by our economy. More medicines are being prescribed and more are increasing in costs under our present patent situation. Reliance on emergency care is also increasing costs. Dial 911 and add another thousand dollars to your journey to the hospital.
Much of the paper work at hospitals and some of the procedures are what I call, “legally protective” processes. The rights of all are legally protected and these are also pretty costly.
Every medicine used in the hospital is expensively packaged in throw-away casings and some of the very instruments for administering the medicine are also throw-aways. I didn't visit the recycling section of the hospital. That must also be something to see and pretty costly.
Health costs have always been expensive and have been increasing during my lifetime, so much so that they the best of health care has not always been accessible to everyone. As a kid, the doctor charged $2 and later when times got better, $5.
I had a number of times at the hospital to go out my way to get the attention that the member of my family needed and respectfully got it . Anything can go wrong in any system.
Not all care-givers are the same. Some better than others. Most are excellent and underpaid, subsidizing the system. They are on duty. At the top of the pyramid, those with expensive neckties, separate themselves in other ways as well, an example, they are not on duty but “on call:” Nurses and staff are on duty.
These latter observations point to some of the costly built-in aspects of the system as well as some of the structured class nature of medical care today. The nurses and assisting staff are the backbone of the structure. Without the nurses, the whole system would fall apart. Who would administer the service?
If nurses, in the future receive their fair compensation, we'll see another built-in cost that will be quite significant. What next, robots? They too are costly.
Who's going to look into the real sustainable health reform of our system? The doctors, the health insurance corporation, our legislators? Not likely.
Of course, if you think health care is expensive now, wait until later.
We can become a civilization where heath care is a natural element of the way we live and remove some of the monetary aspects of it or we can run it as business for profit. In either case it will consist of a significant portion of our economy.