Monday, May 2, 2011

DAY 211 - Medicare Complexity: Not Just for Old Folks

Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were as simple as to either “keep your hands off Medicare”, or “privatize Medicare”?

If I had to choose one right now, May 2, 2011, I would choose “keep your hands off Medicare”, but I don’t ... have to.

To me, "keep your hands off Medicare" means, leave it as it is; and that just won't work.

Here are the huge problems with “hands off”:
1)    the vast majority of health care practice in America, including Medicare, uses a try-to-fix-it-once-it-is-clearly-broken approach; prevention is a miniscule part of our system,
2)    Medicare, and our health care system (more accurately, a disease care system) overwhelmingly focus on, and financially reward, the managing of symptoms with drugs, surgeries, and procedures; understanding, discussing and dealing with the causes of illness are uncommon for both doctors and patients,
3)    Medicare does not emphasize improving lifestyle choices as the key to improved health, even though medical science has proven it to be the most efficacious and the most cost effective means of achieving health,
4)    Medicare, as it is, and our health care system, are grossly dysfunctional, and are currently contributing to the bankrupting of America.

We, the American people, must begin to take responsibility for our health, and act on it.

Privatization is even worse than "hands off".

While our government bureaucracies are often inefficient, the private health insurance industry, driven first and foremost by the profit motive, has a long and often lurid history, including regular lapses of moral judgment when dealing with subscribers and health care providers.

As many private insurance companies deny care, often illegally, those effected subscribers commonly turn to public hospitals and emergency rooms, where the costs are borne by we, the taxpayers, rather than the insurance company.

Ultimately, in the realms of health and health care, our conditions and fates are interconnected. We will, sink or swim together. This being the case, rather than "keeping our hands off Medicare", we need to put our hands on it, and begin to massage it into a more functional system.

We must start by acknowledging and rewarding what we have long known; that improved self-care is the sine qua non of individual and community health. We must remind our doctors, and teach our citizens about the powerful and necessary daily practices that determine health. We must relearn the values of caring for ourselves and caring for others.

Simple answers just won’t cut it. Let us join hands and begin the work of healing ourselves, and of healing our Nation.

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