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May 6, 2017 — It’s not just “young and healthy” vs. “older and sicker”

The debate over the nature and delivery of health care in the United States over the last 25 years has centered on two different kinds of people buying into the health care exchange systems: younger (and presumably healthier) Americans, and older (and presumably sicker) seniors.

Only it’s not that simple. This week, an acquaintance of mine in the journalism field died at the age of 25. She had a lingering illness which required some very expensive steroid treatments that altered her appearance.

Three decades ago, a co-worker, barely older than me, had to undergo cancer treatment. As our company did not offer health insurance for its part-time workers, he had to go into debt in order to survive. Regrettably, he died with a half-million dollars in debt.

Last week, a friend of mine from the dance world started getting IV treatments for arthritis. She’s barely 22 years of age. Fortunately, she works for a Federal agency, which has a level of health care somewhat better than what is offered for the average American worker.

These three people are examples of people who do not fit the dichotomy that the defenders of health care bills would have you believe.

Instead, there are two ways that you have to think about health care. One is the loss-prevention model, and the other, the pools-of-money model.

Health care is very much a battle over money, rather than the goal of good health for everyone. Think about the enormous sums of money involved: hospital corporations, big pharma, insurance companies, and malpractice insurance lawyers.

They are enriching themselves at the expense of the very people they are supposed to help. How do we know? Overall, the U.S. health care system ranks in the mid-30s when it comes to quality.

But this is where the loss-prevention model should kick in. Two of the biggest expenses in health care are (1) the last six months of life; and (2) waste, fraud, and abuse.

For true health care reform, there are going to have to be enormous questions answered. Is the health care system ready for more hospice and palliative care rather than using extreme measures to keep patients alive? Is America ready to police the delivery of health care so that fly-by-night companies offering free scooters and knee braces can be investigated?

Ultimately, it will also come to a decision as to whether we, as a society, expect that health care isn’t something Wall Street is allowed to make money from.

You’re already hearing a number of pundits, even from the Cato Institute, speaking of health care as if it is a right.

The conversation, it seems, is changing.

 

 

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