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What You Can Do About Our Dysfunctional $3 Trillion Medical System

by Donald Ardell

posted in News and Society

Syndicate This Article
Introduction
U.S. medical spending, already at $3 trillion, grew 5.5% last year, according to a study cited in The Wall Street Journal (Louise Radnofsky, "U.S. Health-Spending Growth Jumped to 5.5% in 2014", WSJ, July 28, 2015). Soon, one of every five dollars spent in the U.S. will be on medical care. One likely consequence: employers will continue investing in wellness programs while offering only high-deductible insurance plans with steep out-of-pocket copays. If you're going to get sick, and who isn't, you better be well off.
America's medical bill is higher than the tabs run up by the next ten top spending countries-Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia-combined.
Where does all that money go? Not to prevention or wellness-spending for those services could only be measured with a magnifying glass, or perhaps a telescope.
Here's the breakdown:
  • Hospital care - 31%
  • Physician and clinical services - 22%
  • Prescription drugs - 10%
  • Dental/other professional - 10%
  • Other - 10%
  • Nursing/home care services - 09%
  • Administration - 07%

Not everyone loses sleep over our outsized system. Not CEOs of non-profit hospitals, for example, like Steve Corwin, who makes $3.58 million a year, or Jeffrey Romoff, another hospital CEO, who makes $5 million annually. Probably not those who sell MRI machines-we have 31.5 per 1 million people in the U.S.; the UK has 5.9 per 1 million. Probably not the hospitals that bill patients $77 for a small box of gauze pads and all other items used with patients as well as services rendered to them. (Source: Steven Brill, "What I Learned From My $190,000 Surgery." Time Magazine, Jan. 8, 2015.)
What Can A Person Do?
Well, let's assume you're living a wellness lifestyle, not because you dread the loss of health, the physical and financial pains of medical care or the breakdown of essential organs-or even the end of everything, better known as death. No, if you are like most pursuing a high quality of life, these are not what animate your disciplined lifestyle. Rather, you live this way, in your own fashion, because your experience has convinced you that doing so is a richer way to be alive, an approach that daily enables you to have more energy, to look and feel better than you would otherwise and to enjoy countless other positive, worthwhile returns that make life good. You are polite about it and you almost always avoid hurting other peoples' feelings, but when you think about it, you have to admit to yourself that you consider those who eat crappy food, who ignore exercise and who otherwise engage in high risk behaviors as victims of conditions and circumstances (i.e., dreadful cultural norms). Within reason, you do what you can for the well being of your fellow men and women.
Summing up, the cost of health care in the U.S. is $3 trillion and you can't do a thing about it. All you can do is stay out of the system as much as possible and the best way to do that is to live a REAL wellness lifestyle.
Wait - there is one more thing you can do, if you are very wealthy and give huge sums of money to powerful politicians or run a PAC. You can direct the politicians who do your bidding in return for these contributions to support a single payer system that eliminates the middle man - health insurance companies.
Of course there are other ways, but you can't do much about the two big ones-have good genetics and enjoy random good fortune. So, put your trust in you-learn as much as possible about REAL wellness and live accordingly, in ways that fit your unique circumstances and possibilities.
Be well and best wishes. Look on the bright side and live a WO-filled life.
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