Friday, August 14, 2009

A Handyman's Healthcare Plan

I know that my plan probably won't get much press and I use the word "my" loosely. One saying we should all live by is that if something isn't broke, don't fix it. Others are in this list...

1. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (a fav of my mother's).

2. Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

3. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

4. First, do no harm.

5. Be kind to the branches on the way up, you will need them on your way down.

6. Just because something is broken, doesn't mean that everyone else has to give up theirs.

Get the idea, good. Onward...

A century ago, life expectancies were about 50 years. Today, they're about 70 to 75. To get there, we've spent a lot of money collectively on a lot of newfangled equipment. Don't get me wrong, some of this technical wizardry has saved lives. A computerized tomography, or CT scan revealed my wife needed her gall bladder removed. When the surgeon removed it, he made mention that it was diseased chronically and would have given her trouble in the short term. The surgery and follow up care is going to be expensive, and will probably cost our health plan about $8000 for one hour's work and several hours in a private room. This is a bargain, in my book, because health is so important and is something we should not cut corners on, even if we have to pay out of pocket.

On the other hand, we have a friend who's very overweight and in poor health. The place she was working at cut her this April and she's been living on un-enjoyment compensation since then (I've been on it since January, with a 6 week respite in June, but that is a different story). She has no health insurance and has been hospitalized for a couple weeks due to a chronic infection. This young lady has no health insurance and will likely have to pay a substantial portion out of pocket (she is in my prayers and the Lord will make a way for her).

This doesn't mean that we need a public health insurance option to make health care more affordable. It will mean that private industry and the rest of us will have to make some collective and individual changes to make this happen. Here are some things that individuals and organizations, can do to keep the costs manageable.

1. Government: Keep out of micromanaging anything other than punishing fraud or other criminal or civil acts. Keep jury awards to a reasonable level that reflects a sound moral policy. A jury award should not be winning the lottery, it should be helping the victims of medical mistakes.

2. Drug companies: We have more than enough pills to stop heartburn, increase libido (when a penis pump will do the job better and more cost effectively. This isn't to be funny, but to be honest), treat allergies, depression, and pain. Drug companies need to be researching antibiotics and anti-virals as this is the most pressing need. My friend has had continuous problems with infections more and more resistant to current drug therapies. Most of the rest of the aforementioned problems (including depression in some cases) can be treated by lifestyle changes.

3. Institutions of higher learning need to concentrate on expanding their nursing programs. Right now, it is nearly impossible to get into some programs while the nursing shortage festers and the unemployment rolls swell. Why not get some capable people back to work in something meaningful to society.

4. Individuals: Shop around and compare costs, even if the insurance company pays more for the more expensive option. Viagra as opposed to the mechanical methods, for example. Another I can give is that I take a prescription that would have cost over $130 a month and insurance would have paid about $32. I got a similar script at another pharmacy for $4 a month, no insurance needed. It pays to shop around.

Notice I did not include doctors and hospitals in this rant. Doctors work hard for years with little or no pay. They are hundreds of thousands in debt by the time they leave medical school and complete their residency. Hospitals have to be able to turn a profit and really don't have that high a profit margin (I've had health care management coursework).

The real solution to the problem will come when Jesus establishes His kingdom soon. Even being unemployed, I would much rather depend on Him than any earthly entity for sustenance.


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