The Affordable Care Act (The ACA) was signed into law March 23, 2010, in an effort to curb the rapidly escalating cost of healthcare. Among other protections patients were assured, you would not be denied coverage because you had a “pre-existing condition” and annual and lifetime “caps on essential benefits” were banned.
The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Why is it that we don’t have universal healthcare? Thirty-two of thirty-three developed nations have universal healthcare. The United States is a lone exception. While the cost of Healthcare must be covered, it should be a public service not a “for profit” enterprise.
Elisabeth Rosenthal, in her treatise “An American Sickness,” explores some of the abuses in the way health care is processed.
“Angela Braly of Wellpoint received a total annual compensation of more than $20 million in 2012. Joe Swedish, appointed CEO in 2013, received a starting salary and bonus totaling about $5 million not including stock options.” It is morally reprehensible for CEOs of insurance companies to be paid this much money.
Big Pharma spends more money on lobbying than any other industry in the United States. They spend $5 billion a year on advertising. “Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you!” The practice of advertising these drugs is banned in other industrialized nations. The healthcare industry spends $15 billion a year on advertising, about the same as auto manufacturers. These are not public service ads: their purpose is to get you to spend money.
As patients, we are profoundly grateful for the wonders of modern medicine and the dedication and concern of health professionals, but we need to make an effort to be better informed and prepared to become advocates in our personal care.
When I was growing up, our family doctor was a chiropractor and naturopath. I had my first aspirin when I was 24 and living on my own. My mother cautioned that medical doctors tended to treat symptoms instead of pursuing causes such as taking an aspirin for a headache instead of looking for what was causing the pain or taking a muscle relaxant when back pain could be relieved by an adjustment. Depressed? Take a pill.
In the world of medicine there is a tendency to over test and over medicate. Recently a general alarm has been sounding throughout our country. We have an opioid epidemic. For many it is caused by prescribed drugs being abused.
“Gunshot wounds cost Americans $700 million a year.” This message was posted on the internet by CNN.) More can be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable and away from children. The NRA is not interested in our safety. Their main interest is in selling guns.
For some time we have been confronted with a major farce by Congress. For the past seven years they have railed against the ACA, vowing to repeal it. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that their lack of success is because it’s a bad idea! Everyone understands that the present healthcare plan needs to be improved. Republicans are not interested in providing health care. They are interested in taking it away.
Last but not least – The cost of healthcare is affected by choices we make in our daily lives. By indulging in bad habits, smoking, excessive drinking, fast foods, overeating, we invite obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer.
Our work is cut out for us if we want to protect Medicare and Medicaid and extend coverage to all Americans.