Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Health Care Costs

Unfortunately, health care, like the environment, global warming, guns, abortion and the First dog have become not issues to be discussed, but for both parties, articles of faith to rally the base, generate contributions and club the opposition to gain power.

This is another interesting piece from www.ncpa.org.

Recently, President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his conviction that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. This is an important goal. But as lawmakers move forward, they must be aware of the facts. And they must be clear on the precise causes of America's health care woes, says Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Take the president's claim that the number of uninsured "now totals 45.7 million Americans." Although the Census Bureau puts the number of uninsured U.S. residents at approximately 46 million, its report clearly states that 10 million of them are noncitizens, and almost 18 million make $50,000 a year or more, yet have chosen not to purchase health insurance.

What's most concerning is that these inflated statistics are distracting us from addressing the root causes of our nation's ballooning health care costs, says Pitts:

Of the $2.2 trillion America spends each year on health care, 75 percent of that money goes to fighting chronic diseases, many of which are preventable but require regular treatment; it's for this reason that treating chronic conditions carries such a hefty price tag.

And the problem is getting worse; between 1980 and 2006, the incidence of diabetes tripled, triggering a massive increase in health care spending; heart disease and related illnesses will cost Americans over $304 billion this year alone.

In 2005, nearly half of all Americans were suffering from at least one chronic disease.
Luckily, huge strides can be made toward this goal by empowering Americans through better health education. Informing citizens about good diet and exercise habits would go a long way toward curbing the incidence of obesity, a condition that often deteriorates into more costly chronic illnesses, says Pitts.

Source: Peter Pitts, "Opinion: The root cause of rising health care costs: chronic disease," Mercury News, April 20, 2009.

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  1. These are chronic diseases that 1) could be prevented if people would stop eating garbage 2) stop going to the doctor every time they burp thinking they have a disease.

    Doctors and pharmaceutical companies have learned to pander to the neediness of people by inventing diseases for every thing they can imagine.

    The real disease is people not wanting to be responsible. They want a pill so they can eat the garbage at McDonalds. They don't want to spend time with their kids cooking a meal together so they justify feeding crap from fast food restaurants to their kids by claiming "they don't have time to cook." In fact, it probably takes no more time to put a good meal together than it does to drive to a junk food joint.

    If you don't eat right then you get sick. A few people are pre-disposed to disease but not most. Of course that doesn't make anyone "special" nor does it allow them to eat irresponsibly.

  2. I think that there needs to be more done than "informing" Americans about diet and exercise in order to make a sizable dent in the epidemic of obesity which results in many of these chronic conditions. One would have to been living on the moon to remain unaware of the negative health consequences of obesity. Until individuals have skin in the game, in terms of economic incentives to become more healthy, they will continue to follow the easy route. I'm not sure how that can be accomplished, but a carrot and stick method seems to be the only way to achieve any measurably significant goal in reducing chronic disease.

  3. Americans need to eat healthier if they want lower medical costs. However this seldom happens. Eating unhealthy diets has become the norm. I think that insurance compainies should be able to charge extra money for those who decide to put their bodies at greater risk while rewarding those who eat healthy and or exercise. I do not want to have to pay for other to let there bodies go to crap while I keep my healthy. If they want to eat their Micky Dee's let them also pay for the consequences of it instead of shifting the cost to me.

  4. The strong take from the weak and the smart take from the strong - MG