Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May, 2014 the Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care, Part 3: What Should Have Been Done Vs. What Obama Did Continued

Two posts ago we laid out all of the Obama Care operations, strategies, and tenets that have already gone wrong and which are highly likely to go wrong in the coming months and years. Identity theft, higher deficits, higher national debt, higher insurance premiums, higher deductibles, loss of privacy, IRS harassment, failing government websites, millions of Americans losing access to their preferred doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans, millions of Obama Care policy holders being denied access to the top medical facilities and doctors in the country, etc. The list seems endless.

We also explained how the legislation never had a chance of successfully reducing our ever escalating health care costs in this country since those that wrote it never understood the true root causes of our increasing health care costs: Americans smoke too much, Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, Americans do not exercise enough, the government restricts insurance company cost reducing competition across state lines, much needed medical tort reform never happened, etc.

Since Obama, Pelosi, Reid and other Obama Care architects never understood the root causes, we ended up with 2,500 pages of legal mumbo jumbo that created a Rube Goldberg-like subsidized government insurance program that will ultimately fail. The problem is that we have a public health crisis that is causing our higher and higher health care costs, we do not have a lack of insurance problem. High insurance costs are a symptom of the root causes, they are not the cause themselves.

Starting tomorrow, we will again start reviewing the unfolding disasters still coming out of the Obama Care legislation, much like we have done on a monthly basis since last August. Today and yesterday, however, we have gone back through our blog posts over the past few years and gathered up all of the suggestions that subject matter experts and informed, logical people have put forth to identify the true root causes of our high health care costs. That information leads one to the needed public health initiatives which should be put forth to resolve those root causes. We have also added some additional information and reports that we have not previously covered which also make our point.

I maintain that if we were successful in attacking the true root causes, as proposed below, the cost of health care would drop dramatically as would the cost of health care insurance, making it affordable for all who wanted it. The Obama Care approach, raising taxes to cover everyone with health care insurance without eliminating the underlying root causes is a fallacy solution.

The following observations, government and independent reports and analysis, success stories, and realities are in no particular sequence. However, at the end of the two posts I think you will agree that the Obama Care approach to the problem has missed the mark completely by focusing on health care insurance rather than health care solutions.

8) An article on smoking that appeared in the February 7, 2014 issue of The Week magazine, reinforced the high toll in lives, health, and costs due to smoking, as researched by the Surgeon General:
  • Thirteen different types of cancer have been linked to smoking tobacco.
  • Other ailments associated with smoking include vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, impairment of the immune system, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and ectopic pregnancy.
  • The report calculated that smoking is the nation’s leading cause of premature death, killing 480,000 people a year.
  • It also costs the nation up to $333 billion a year in medical care costs and lost productivity.
And the Washington political class annually insists on giving the tobacco industry hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funded subsidies. Insane.

9) The May, 2014 issue of AARP’s Magazine discussed the widespread malady of diabetes. According to the article, almost 26 million Americans have diabetes, about 8% of the country’s citizens have it. 26 million is bad enough news but the trend is even worse, with that diabetes number having grown by 8 million people in just the past six years. 

The American Diabetes Association recommends losing weight, exercising, and a low fat diet are great ways to reduce the odds of getting diabetes. However, the article put forth some simple public health steps that everyone can take in their daily lives to reduce the spread of diabetes and thus, reduce the increasing costs of treating diabetes:
  • Stop drinking soda since according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health review, drinking just one or two sugar sweetened sodas a day increase your risk of getting diabetes by 26%. This is a result of the wide spread use of high fructose corn syrup in non-diet sodas that is encouraged by the Federal government’s misguided subsidies of corn growers.
  • Take a 15 minute walk a half hour after you eat and you will lower your post meal blood sugar levels for at least three hours, according to a recent study from George Washington University.
  • Adopt the so-called Mediterranean diet which is rich in fish and heart healthy olive oil and you can reduce your chance of getting diabetes by a whopping 83%.
  • People who sit around six to eight hours a day on their job are 19% more likely to get diabetes. Getting up and moving around for just two minutes every hour ups one’s metabolism enough to lower glucose levels and reduce the chance of diabetes.
  • Include a weight lifting component to your exercise regime beyond just aerobic exercise and you will do a better job of managing the glucose level in your body.
  • Eat your meals more slowly and you will usually end up eating less and reducing weight and the chance of getting diabetes.
Simple personal and public health initiatives that would go much further in reducing health care costs than whether of not you signed up for an Obama Care Bronze, Gold, or Silver insurance plan.

10) That same issue from AARP discussed research which found that one out of every three cancers can be prevented by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating right. The article points to six types of food to accomplish this reduction in your chances of getting cancer:
  • Garlic and onions
  • Milk
  • Broccoli
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables,
  • Red Grapes
  • Whole grains
It is that simple and you do not have to wrestle with a dysfunctional Obama Care website to get results.

11) A recent New York Times article that was summarized in the December 20, 2013 issue of The Week magazine reported that about 440,000 Americans dies each years as a result of preventable errors in U.S. hospitals. This means that one out of every size deaths in the country can be attributed to mistakes in hospitals. This makes these preventable deaths the third leading cause of death in the nation.

It does not matter whether you have a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Obama Care insurance policy since the legislation never really addresses this national problem and the associated costs caused by it. The good news is you have health insurance, the bad news is the hospital killed you anyway.

12) A mini-scandal and uproar occurred a few weeks ago when it was revealed that some doctors were receiving millions of dollars from Medicare every year for services rendered to Medicare patients. To make this number more understandable, and disgusting, a doctor getting $2 million a year from Medicare, and the American taxpayer, on average was getting about a $7,700 check EVERY business day of the year. I find it hard to believe that any doctor was providing that amount of quality and efficient medical service every day.

The situation became much clearer on why these doctors were making so much money as explained in Business Week article that appeared last week. Using the drug Lucentis as an example, you can see why doctors make millions off of the American taxpayer with very little effort.

Lucentis is used to treat is used by ophthalmologists/eye doctors to treat macular degeneration. Medicare pays doctors 106% of the average cost of a drug when a doctors administers it to a patient. Lucentis costs $2,000 for one shot making it a lucrative drug for doctors to administer since they will, on average, get 6% of $2,000 for their efforts.

However, another drug, Avastin, works just as well as Lucentis but costs only $50 a shot. Thus, a doctor would make 40 times less in Medicare payments, 6% of $2,000 vs. 6% of $50, if he or she used Avastin vs. Lucentis. 

Given that almost half of the 50 doctors being paid the most by Medicare in 2012 were ophthalmologists, what drug do we think these doctors are using the most, Lucentis or Avastin with Medicare not caring one way or the other from a treatment and payment perspective? Given that Medicare pays out about $1 billion a year just for Lucentis, it is pretty clear that at least some of these doctors are milking a stupid Medicare payment system.

I do not believe anywhere in the Obama Care legislation does it require Medicare to stop being so stupid and wasteful. Just forcing the switch from Lucentis to Avastin would save upwards of $1 billion a t year and contribute substantially to reducing health care costs.

13) An article in the march, 2014 issue of AARP’s Bulletin reported on how the nation is addicted to unnecessary medical tests, unnecessary tests that also needlessly increase the country; overall health care costs. For example, an estimated $3 billion is spent every year on PSA screening of prostate cancer which many experts now say does more harm than good. Nearly a quarter of $1,000 colonoscopies performed in older people every year are most likely inappropriate.

Nearly two thirds of women who have had hysterectomies and half of all U.S. women over 65 with not cervical cancer history report having recent Pap tests even though the American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against this test for these women. Excessive use of MRIs for lower back pain likely results tens of billions of dollars worth of treatments that end up not working.

How many hundreds of billions of wasted costs could be saved each year if we got the unnecessary testing syndrome under control, a syndrome not addressed by Obama Care?

14) Okay, last example of how we could dramatically reduce health care costs in this country without needing a useless 2,500 page piece of legislation from Washington:
  • In 1975, California passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) which, among other things, capped the amount of medical malpractice awards. Since then, the California cost for medical malpractice insurance has gone up 168% on average while nationally the cost has gone up 420%. 
  • In the 1990s and again in 2003, Texas passed major medical malpractice tort reform. Since then, the number of malpractice awards have gone down 25% and the cost for malpractice insurance from the state's largest insurers is down over 50%. 
  • In 2005, Georgia also capped malpractice awards and has seen the number of malpractice lawsuits go down 39% and medical insurance rates go down 18%. 
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that medical malpractice tort reform would reduce the cost of medical insurance anywhere from 10-30%. And if you reduce the costs of malpractice insurance, you eventually would see those savings translate into lower overall health care costs.
Want to bet that the reason that national and rational medical industry tort reform was NOT included in Obama Care, despite the success at the state level, is that the American Bar Association and the legal cartel did not want to see their lucrative practices in suing doctors to dry up? Just a hunch.

There you have it. Fourteen easy ways to reduce health care costs in this country that truly address the root causes of that problem. No fancy Washington legislation, no corrupt and inoperable new Federal bureaucracy, no loss of freedom, no wasting of taxpayer wealth, no increased taxes, no disruption in millions of Americans lives. 

Just a straightforward approach to resolving a public health crises with public health strategies as oppose to using a massive and inefficient government insurance operation to resolve a public health crises. Eat healthier, exercise, stop smoking, clean up the existing inefficiencies and criminal fraud that exists to day and the country would easily save hundreds of billons of dollars every year. That is what root causes analysis does for you, something that Obama and the rest of the Obama Care advocates never did.

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