Why are Americans so worked up about health care reform? Statements such as for example “don’t touch my Medicare” or “everyone should have access to advanced health care regardless of cost” are in my estimation uninformed and visceral responses that indicate an unhealthy understanding of our health care system’s history, its current and future resources and the funding challenges that America faces going forward. Health Care Guide While we all wonder the way the health care system has already reached what some make reference to as an emergency stage. Let’s try to take a number of the emotion from the debate by briefly examining how healthcare in this country emerged and how which has formed our thinking and culture about healthcare. With that as a foundation let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Obama administration health care reform proposals and let’s look at the concepts help with by the Republicans?
Access to advanced healthcare services is something we can all agree would be a good thing because of this country. Experiencing a serious illness is among life’s major challenges also to face it without the means to shell out the dough is positively frightening. But as we shall see, once we know the facts, we will discover that achieving this goal will never be easy without our individual contribution.
These are the themes I will touch on to make an effort to make some sense out of what’s happening to American healthcare and the steps we can personally try make things better.
A recently available history of American healthcare – what has driven the costs so high?
Key elements of the Obama healthcare plan
The Republican view of health care – free market competition
Universal access to state of the art healthcare – a worthy goal however, not easy to achieve
what can we do?
First, let’s get yourself a little historical perspective on American healthcare. This is not intended to be an exhausted look into that history but it will give us an appreciation of how the healthcare system and our expectations for this developed. What drove costs higher and higher?
To begin with, let’s turn to the American civil war. In that war, dated tactics and the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to cause ghastly results. Not generally known is that a lot of the deaths on both sides of that war were not the result of actual combat but from what happened following a battlefield wound was inflicted. To begin with, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail’s pace which caused severe delays in treating the wounded. Secondly, many wounds were subjected to wound care, related surgeries and/or amputations of the affected limbs and this often resulted in the onset of massive infection. So you may survive a battle wound only to die as a result of health care providers who although well-intentioned, their interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can even be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a period when no antibiotics existed. In total something like 600,000 deaths occurred from all causes, over 2% of the U.S. population at that time!
Let’s skip to the first half of the 20th century for a few additional perspective and to bring us up to newer times. After the civil war there have been steady improvements in American medicine in both understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But also for the most part the very best that doctors can offer their patients was a “wait and see” approach. Medicine could handle bone fractures and increasingly attempt risky surgeries (now largely performed in sterile surgical environments) but medicines weren’t yet open to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths remained the result of untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or related complications. Doctors were increasingly alert to heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they had next to nothing with which to take care of these conditions.