Health care spending is out of control. Obamacare premiums are set to skyrocket as this legislated give-away to insurance carriers (forcing the young and healthy to buy insurance or else) is backfiring. [Washington Examiner July 13, 2016]
To be meaningful any real health reform needs to reduce healthcare spending by a trillion dollars ($3 trillion being spent now).
We are conducting a charade, attempting to lower the growth in spending, not the current amount spent.
The reason why healthcare spending is not being cut is because government changed the way it looks at healthcare spending, from being a cost on the expense side of the financial ledger to being a job creator on the asset side of the ledger.
According to the US Department of Labor “Healthcare occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.” [US Bureau Labor Statistics]
U.S. health care spending grew 5.3 percent in 2014, reaching $3.0 trillion or $9,523 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.5 percent. [CMS.gov]
The median income in the US is $50,502. [MyBudget360] That means 18.8% of family income goes toward health care.
A wage earner who makes $50,000 gross pay will typically have $39,700 of taxable income, pay $7487 in State and Federal taxes, another $725 for Medicare tax and $3100 for Social Security. Now add $9523 for health and care expenses and that wage earner only has $29,165 or $2430/month to pay rent, food, car payment, gasoline, etc. The total government required spending or taxation is 40% of a modest income!
Furthermore, with all of the rhetoric about the high cost of Rx drugs ($1000 for a single dose of a hepatitis drug), the pharmaceutical sector of the stock market must not be allowed to tumble. [Bloomberg News]
So The Wall Street Journal, that icon of misinformation and propaganda, suggests five ways to reduce health care spending. [Wall Street Journal July 21, 2016] These five were:
- Select the right hospital. Are they kidding? To reduce healthcare spending you reduce hospitalization altogether!
The WSJ article talked about the relatively high-rate of catheter-induced blood infections in smaller hospitals. If hospitals were at all interested in infection control they would see patients are tested upon admission for vitamin D levels and see they are nourished properly for optimal immunity (vitamins C, D, E, A, zinc, selenium). Instead, hospitals, knowing the risk for pneumonia is high in bedridden patients, offers pneumonia vaccination, which is an injection of the bacterium that causes pneumonia in a patient who is likely to be immune compromised. Here is what a recent report said: “
- Slow approval of new drugs — again the WSJ has to be out of their mind. Most new drug approvals are for patentable molecules that do not perform as well as older drugs. The WSJ article talks about competitive pricing of drugs (LOL). If you want real competition, allow dietary supplements, which exert the same biological action as many prescription drugs, to compete head-to-head with drugs. For example, vitamin B9 (folic acid), especially when combined with vitamin B12, is a natural anti-depressant by virtue of its ability to reduce homocysteine levels in the brain. Resveratrol, a red wine molecule, is a natural MAO inhibitor and antidepressant. There are many other examples.
- Make for electronic medical records that have to be transferred to other healthcare providers upon demand so the consumer can shop around for more economical health care. Reminds me of the guy who shopped around for a lower-priced doctor to sew his arm back on and it fell off a year later. Patients don’t have any incentive to shop around unless the money is coming out of their own pocket and then why not run across the border for cheaper care? Medical tourism saves money. Thousands of Americans are undergoing surgery outside the U.S. [NY Times March 20, 2009]
I recall when companies like Goodyear and Goodrich made automobile tires that lasted only 15,000 miles or so. Then the U.S. allowed the French-made Michelin tires to be imported into the U.S. that lasted 100,000 miles. Only then did U.S. tire companies make better tires. The same has to happen with health care. Real competition may come from overseas.
- Approve drugs by giving them a score like B+ for safety and A- for effectiveness rather than thumbs up or down (approved or unapproved). But what about drugs that kill patients like statin cholesterol-lowering drugs by virtue of the fact cholesterol is not what causes arterial disease but in fact these drugs are highly effective at reducing cholesterol? What about existing cancer chemotherapy drugs that offer little chance of a cure and induce heart failure that often kills the patient before their cancer does?