Wasted spending in health care

The November, 2012, issue of the AARP Bulletin has an interesting article on wasted spending in health care. They estimate wasted spending at $765 billion, which is about 27% of all health care spending at $2.8 trillion. The $765 billion figure is more than the amount Mitt Romney is accusing President Obama of taking from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. It is an interesting article with the largest source of waste being unnecessary services followed closely by insurance and bureaucratic costs. AARP’s site is at www.aarp.org As of this morning, the site has not yet posted the November issue of the Bulletin.

Auto/healthcare insurance

The Reckless Driver

The Reckless Driver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I read a blog posting by a blogger on the Right who compared auto insurance to healthcare insurance. Both are insurance, but there is a critical difference. Driving is a privilege while living is a right. In both cases the purpose of insurance is to spread the risk. If you are a good driver, you pay less than a reckless driver, but part of your premium still goes to support the reckless driver, until he/she loses his/her driving privileges.

In the case of healthcare insurance, some of the insured do not take good care of themselves and those who do eat healthy foods and exercise and avoid risky sports subsidize those who live a more risky life. That is true. However, there are some among us who are struck down by expensive-to-cure accidents or illnesses through no fault of their own. We cannot condemn some of our fellows citizens to a debilitated life or early death through no fault of their own, when we possess the knowledge to save them. If we have the ability to save lives, we have the moral obligation to act.


English: Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara,...

English: Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, USA Français : Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Californie, États-Unis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am right-hand dominant and my body is wearing out on the right side. My hearing, eyesight and memory are slipping. I am going to die as all of us will some day. I don’t believe in spending time and money to delay the day by a few months or years. Some people are wealthy enough to purchase a longer lives through medical attention and the services of servants. If you use your body less, it won’t wear out as soon. In the wealthy community of Santa Barbara, I cared for patients of advanced age who were in poor health. I wondered then why live a long life without health. I often thought that The Picture of Dorian Grey by Wilde was the ideal way to live, but we humans do not have that option.

Now I live in southern Utah in a community that does not have Santa Barbara’s wealth. The elderly patients I care for seem in better health than the ones I saw in California. It could be a healthier life style or it could be that the less healthy individuals have already deceased. Certainly, here the general population does not have the wealth to afford the best care that America has to offer. Few people do. America has the world’s best health care, but our statistics are not supportive of that claim. Infant mortality here is too high and seniors live years longer in other countries.

Tomorrow, the US Supreme Court will rule on Obamacare. Yea or nay, I hope that the decision will lead to Medicare for all.

Right to life

Jaap Vermeulen, Jacoplane in a Neonatal intens...

Image via Wikipedia

When does life begin? I worked part-time in a hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for almost 20 years and I had lots of time both on and off the job to try to decide when life begins. Some time between conception and birth, but when exactly? I lean toward the belief that life begins at birth or shortly before birth. As medical science has progressed, we are able to increase a child’s chances of surviving with shorter and shorter gestation periods. We have not yet reached the ability to produce a living child outside the mother’s body from the moment of conception, as in Huxley’s Brave New World.

Whenever it begins, life is sacred. The sanctity of life does not end at the moment of birth. We owe the child born due to our laws and our religious beliefs, the same support that we want for children born of our own bodies. Every child deserves a good start in life with adequate, healthy food and quality, affordable health care. Education to a certain level should be free to produce the next generation of productive workers and informed citizens. We must protect all children, and adults too, from random violence, contaminated food and water, auto accidents, demented shooters, and needless wars, at least as best we can.

It was traditional that saving a person’s life made the hero responsible for that person’s life from that moment on. If some of us believe that life begins at conception and propose to save the lives of children who might be the victims of abortion, then those who so believe become responsible for the lives that they preserve. We cannot and we must not abandon children to their fate after birth.

Limited warranty

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

Image via Wikipedia

Before my recent retirement, I spent more than 20 years in the healthcare industry, mostly in hospitals and much of that time in direct patient care, often in the ER. There are patterns that become evident over time. Accidents often occur in groups of three. Patients start showing up at age 50 unless they are involved in an accident. To explain why we received most patients at age 50 or higher, I developed this little story which I sometimes used to explain the situation.

Each of us comes from our Maker with a limited warranty on parts and labor which expires at age 50. Every day after age 50 is a gift for which we should be thankful.