Friday, February 10, 2017

February, 2017, Part 2, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: Never Understanding Root Causes and Personal Tales Of Obama Care Woes

Every month for years now we have had to discuss how bad Obama Care is turning out to be under the continuing theme, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.” This month is no different. As the legislation continues to march through America, driving up health care and health insurance prices as it serves as dead weight on economic growth, it cements its rightful place as the worst piece of legislation Washington has ever produced.

It never had a chance to be successful since it really never addressed the underlying root causes of our ever increasing health costs in the country:

  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  • Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, and other unhealthy additives.
  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans do not exercise enough.
  • The country is in serious need of health care tort reform.
  • Barriers to insurance company competition across state lines need to come down.
  • Obama Care never “followed the money” to find out who is actually profiting from the ever escalating healthcare costs in this country and how to get those factors under control.
  • Obama Care never got the immense amount of fraud and abuse in current government healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid, under control in order to save money to efficiently fund other government health care initiatives.
  • Obama Care never put serious research money towards curing the major diseases that drive high healthcare costs such as high frequency cancers and dementia type diseases.
You cannot resolve any problem unless you understand and address the underlying root causes. No difference here: Obama Care legislation never addressed these listed root causes and thus, has no chance of ever being successful.

But it is not just missing the root causes of our healthcare costs that makes Obama Care so horrible. It resulted in millions of Americans losing access to their favored doctors, hospitals, and insurance policies. It has caused insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to escalate substantially. It will likely add trillions of dollars to the national debt. It has exposed millions of Americans to higher than necessary identity theft chances. It has created government bureaucracies that are wastefully spending taxpayer wealth and being exploited by criminal elements. It has stifled economic growth and job creation.

These are just a sample of the types of idiocy that we have been reviewing for the past several years in this blog relative to Obama Care., To read those past posts, just enter the phrase, “the unfolding disaster,” in the search box above.

Today we will focus on some of these root causes to show how they are the main drivers of our high healthcare costs, causes that Obama Care never addressed and which still stay unresolved:

1) A recent Center For Disease Control study found that booze is the second leading cause of death, and the attendant healthcare costs, in this country behind tobacco. In fact, according to the summarized results that appeared in the December 23-30, 2016 issue of The Week magazine:

  • Since 2004, alcohol related deaths in this country are up 37%.
  • Drinking now accounts for more overdoses and deaths than prescription painkillers and heroin combined.
  • Other cited research shows that alcohol is a direct cause of at least seven different cancers and that the odds of getting those cancers is directly related to the volume of alcohol consumed.
So, excessive drinking can increase the chances of getting cancer and incurring the high medical costs to treat it, it can ruin livers and incurring the high medical costs to treat it, and can cause obesity and incurring the high medical costs to treat it. This is a public health issue that is driving up health care costs, by up to 37% in the past 13 years, it is not an insurance issue as Obama Care treated it.

2) It is no secret that this country has an obesity problem. More than two thirds of Americans are overweight and over one third are considered obese. Obesity causes all kinds of problems including heart disease and joint and bone issues, often requiring the high medical costs of knee, hip, and other joint replacements. 

However, a recent study in the same issue of The Week cited above showed that if Americans reduced their daily calorie intake by just 12%, health improvements could be dramatic. The study tracked a group of people over two years that had done just that: reduced their daily calorie consumption by 12%. On average, they lost 17 pounds, slept better, had better moods, and enhanced sex drives. In other words, their quality of life improved as did their health. Obama Care has had none of these intended effects, it is an insurance solution trying to resolve a public health issue.

3) That same issue of The Week cited a 900 person study that showed that if you exercise, your chances of keeping your brain young and reducing your chances of cancer, and reducing the associated costs of treatment, go up dramatically. Those people among the 900 test subjects that did little regular exercise “experienced cognitive decline equivalent to 10 more years of agin compared with their more active peers.” Additionally, the earlier that regular exercise began the better the chances of not experiencing the cognitive decline and the associated medical costs.

The article also cited another study that found that people that do the equivalent of walking two and a half hours per week have a lower chance of getting 13 different types of cancer and incurring the associated medical costs. Our ever escalating healthcare costs in this country are mostly a public health crisis, not an insurance crisis as Obama Care assumed.

4) According to another study from the Centers For Disease Control:

  • Drug overdose deaths in this country have gone up by 33% in just the past five years with some states seeing overdose deaths jumping by over 100%. 
  • The overdose increases are being driven by heroin and opioid overdoses.
  • Florida saw a 22.7% increase in just one year from 2014 to 2015.
  • New Hampshire, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine saw their overdose rates jump over 100%.
  • Over 52,000 Americans died in 2016 from drug overdoses.
And all of these overdoses, whether fatal or not, usually incur medical costs that would be unnecessary if we somehow found a way to reduce the addiction and agony associated with drug abuse, something that Obama Care never addressed. Another public health issue left unattended.

5) The above five root causes of our high health care costs, drinking, smoking, lack of exercise, drug abuse, and obesity are major causes of our high healthcare costs and none of them were adequately addressed by Obama Care. Even if Obama Care had a good insurance approach, which it did not, without turning off the public health spigot of bad health behavior, you will never drive down the costs of healthcare in this country.

However, there are also drivers of our high healthcare costs in this country that are not public health related. One of the most important root causes that is listed above and Obama Care never addressed is where does the money flow in our healthcare system, i.e. Obama Care never followed the money. If you do not know where the money is going, you have no idea on how to control the amount of money that is flowing. 

Consider the financials of our current healthcare situation in this country relative to the rest of the world as laid out in a recent Wall Street Journal article:

- The average per capita healthcare expenditure in this country in 2014 was $9,451, highest in the world.

- However despite spending so much money the U.S. average life span in this country for men is 76.9 years, which ranks only 25th in the world, and for U.S. women the average lifespan is 81.6 years, which ranks 27th in the world, i.e. we are spending a lot of money, more than any other country in the world, and not getting the top results one would expect by spending so much.

- When it comes to drug costs, U.S. citizens pay so much more for the same drug than the rest of the world:

  • For a 28 day supply of the arthritis drug Humira, the average cost in the U.S. is $2,669 while the next most expensive country, Britain, pays an average of $1,362, half the cost.
  • A 30 day supply of pain medicine OxyContin costs an average of $265 in the U.S. while the next most expensive country, Switzerland, pays only 95$.
- When it comes to diagnostic costs, U.S.citizens pay so much more for the same test than the rest of the world:

  • The average cost of an MRI in the U.S. is $1,119 while the average cost in the next most expensive country, New Zealand, is $811.
  • The average costs of a colonoscopy in the U.S. is $3,059, while the average costs in the next most expensive country, New Zealand, is $1,421.
- When it comes to procedures, U.S. citizens pay so much more for the same procedure than the rest of the world:

  • Heart bypass surgery averages $76,318 in the U.S. while the cost in the next most expensive country, Switzerland, is a mere $34,224.
  • A normal baby delivery in the U.S. costs an average of $10,808 while the average cost in the next most expensive country, Switzerland, is $7,751.
You get the idea, the Journal article had other examples but the conclusion is always the same: we pay so much more for the exact same drugs, tests, and surgeries vs. other countries so where does all that extra money go? Drug companies? Doctors and surgeons? Malpractice insurance? Government regulation compliance? All of the above? Until you can “follow the money,” you have no idea how to make the entire healthcare process more cost efficient and fair. Obama Care never did any of that.

6) Let’s finish up today’s and this month’s Obama Care disaster review with some real life, personal disasters that Obama Care has caused many American families. As always, our source for this heartbreak is the website:

By not understanding and addressing the root causes of our high healthcare costs, this is the agony and stress that Obama Care is causing across the country:

YVETTE - MAINE: "The least expensive of the new federal healthcare options will cost her $14,400 a year."

ROBERT - FLORIDA: Not only is there less choice, higher costs and lost coverage, but it also means less pay. A lot of companies have been cutting their employees hours to 28 so then those people are only considered part-time workers and the company doesn't have to provide any coverage. Happened to my wife, Holly. she went from working 40+ hrs. a week and dropped down to 28 hrs. a week. So not only did she lose the company health plan but is making less money than she was. It's just a really bad Catch 22. So even if she wanted to she can't afford any decent coverage due to her cut in income. And, you gotta love this one, but if she doesn't get health insurance than she gets penalized by the Gov't for not having health insurance. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

CAMILLE: “We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

M. - FLORIDA: Small biz owner w/no health ins. Started looking in Oct, 2013 at AHC, was very expensive. Tried creating an acct. over 2 months, no luck. March 2014 got rates from the AHC site, they looked REAL GOOD! Took 4 hours to create an acct. Finally got into choosing a plan, prices were triple from what the previous screen showed. Still cannot afford health insurance :( Best plan I found was $300 a month with $12,500.00 co pay, co insurance & deductible. In the websites OWN terminology that meant I pay $12,500 each year before ANY insurance pays (trust me, I checked & double checked on the AHC website for explanation.) Bottom line; still uninsured. Cannot afford AHC. Will self pay, much more affordable. So i'll pay the fine/fee/tax at the end of the year. And i'll keep paying my taxes so our Fed. gov. can GIVE FREE healthcare to someone else. Makes a lot of sense, NOT!

Higher premium costs, higher deductible costs, fewer working hours, more narrow networks, horrible computer systems, oh yeah, Obama Care is working out fine. More disasters next month.

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