Monday, February 22, 2010

Healthcare, Health Costs, and Health Choices

On another blog, I interacted with someone about universal healthcare. Our university had presented a "conversation" about the issue that was broadcasted over the Internet. I watched and responded to the blog's summarization. This interaction got me thinking about the complex issues facing our country and healthcare.

The question of healthcare is one of universalization, where all people in need will have availability. The difficulty is how to go about giving healthcare to those who do not have the capacity to get it for themselves.

Some believe that if one doesn't work, he shouldn't eat. This is conservative America, where humans are to be responsible and self-governing. But, what happens to those who do not have a choice about the matter. They are at the mercy of someone to provide for them. This is what many call a "moral obligation".

I think America has had the "free market"'s benefits, because we have had the ability to compete with no intrusive invasion of privacy by government. Government regulation is held to be a "negative" concerning the free market. Because government doesn't allow the competition to get agreesive enough. Humans are the "damaged goods" of markets driven by profit alone.

On the other hand, competition is healthy to drive up the "outcome" of excellence, and to inhibit the complacency of many who would love to take advantage of opportunity at another's expense. So, there is the heart of the individual and the blindness of beaucratic governing that causes egregious "mistakes" in driving down healthcare costs and maintaining those costs at a palatable level.

The profit and protectionism of drug and insurance companies is also the culprit of America's expensive healthcare. Lobbyist are bought and paid for by private interests, which distort the "public good", at times. Drug companies do not make money when chronic diseases are cured. Nor do researchers maintain their royalities when drugs are copied by generic brands.

Insurance companies have to make a profit over and above the number of litgation "profits". And many are culpable to "padding their pockets" by underwriting markets that have not been proven to be "safe". All of the insured pay when profits are driven over and above such excesses.

The university supported a panel that talked about preventive measures to drive down healthcare costs. Many insurance companies are giving incentives to those that maintain healthy lifestyles. And this was affirmed by this particular panel. Private companies can promote public health by these incentives. But, the question of how to drive costs down overall was the major question discussed. No definitive answers were given. And I believe because America's whole system is driven by the market, that everything is hinges on market values.

Companies cannot survive long if profts are not the 'end' of policy.

Then, there is the costs to and from doctors and those in the medical fields. Medical school leaves the young physician with an atrocious bill to pay back. And this burden is motivation for these young professionals to abuse the system, so they can start earning their salaries free of debt.

But, while these young professionals are trying to get on the feet, the insurance that covers malpractice suits is horrendously burdensome. Young professionals cannot practice without these protections because our society supports holding people accountable for their actions. Thus, when doctors "make a mistake', the patient has the option of holding the doctor accountable, so the patient doesn't have to continue to pay physically or emotionally from damages that another has imposed upon them.

Unfortunately, everyone thinks about their right to such retribution, and not how they can alleviate the need for such retribution in the first place.

Healthcare, health costs and health choices are driven by human need. And human needs are not all equal. Our society needs to think about what our values are and what drives the choices we make, so that our society will not prosper its corporate element at the costs of the human element.

Free societies are free to support human flourishing, not human comsumption at any costs.

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