Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April, 2017, Part 1, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: How Did Obama Care Missed The Obesity Elephant In The Room?

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 two of the root causes above and show, dramatically, how Obama Care totally failed to 1) recognize the extent to which these two root causes cause high medical costs and 2) how much these root causes cost the nation every year. Given how large these root causes are, it is quite unbelievable that Obama and his cohorts could miss this elephant in the room, trying to put forth a badly planned insurance plan to attack a public health problem.

The two root causes we will focus on today are: 

  1. Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  2. Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, and other unhealthy additives.
The basis of our discussion is an article from that was reprinted in the April 14, 2017 issue of The Week magazine. It’s extensive research into the obesity epidemic in this country uncovered the following expensive and tragic realities:

  • Severe obesity, a person with a BMI greater than 40, is rising rapidly and may affect 11% of the population by 2030.
  • A single obese American will rack up about $200,000 in incremental healthcare costs during their lifetimes.
  • This obesity epidemic results in unnecessary medical cases of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, arthritis, certain cancers, hip and knee replacements, etc. and thus, it is quite easy to get to $200,000.
  • Annual obesity expenses in just one city Memphis, Tennessee, is estimated at $538 million, more than half of the budget of the city’s entire public school system.
  • For the entire state of Tennessee, the cost of obesity is estimated at $2.29 billion, more than 6% of the state government budget. 
  • According to Jay Cohen, an endocrinologist who treats diabetes/obesity patients, the average diabetic patient costs the health care system three times what a healthy person costs: “It is politically imperative to reduce the obesity rate. It costs literally trillions of dollars to treat these conditions.”
  • Rahul Gupta, the West Virginia public health commissioner, says that obesity in his state directly costs $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion a year in medical costs with another $5 billion worth of indirect costs.
  • In West Virginia, obese citizens submit seven times more medical claims than non-obese people.
  • Gupta: “At the state and Federal levels chronic disease burden is among the highest drivers of health care costs and among chronic diseases it comes down to to the consequences of obesity and tobacco.”
  • Zhou Yang, a professor at Emory University who studies the effects of obesity on the healthcare industry, estimates that obese older men spent $190,57 more on medical costs than non-obese older men and that older obese women spend $223,629 more on lifetime medical costs than non-obese older women.
  • A 2016 research study at the University of Washington estimated that obesity costs the country about $150 billion a year in medical spending, enough to double the size of the Veterans Administration.
  • Other research shows that obese people have less success with vaccines such as vaccines for flu and HIV, allowing them to stay sick longer and increasing the chance that they will pass their illness onto other members of society, further increasing the medical costs in our society.
  • This obesity situation also affects our military forces since it is becoming harder and harder to find recruits that are in good enough shape to serve and obesity costs the military about $105 million a year in lost productivity and a whopping $1 billion in treatments of obesity-related illnesses, more than what the military spends for tobacco and alcohol related illnesses combined.
  • Research from the University of Illinois estimates that the country burns about an extra one billion gallons of gasoline a year in driving obese people around the country.
  • Another study estimates that airlines burn an extra 350 million gallons of jet fuel a year because of the extra strain to transport obese people in their airplanes.
  • Employers and businesses also suffer from obesity because obese employees are likely to have a higher level of absenteeism and less productivity when they are at work, a lost productivity cost that could range from $390 and $520 billion a year by 2030.
  • The lower end of that estimated range by 2030 comes out to roughly $1,200 per person per year, wealth that cannot be spent to expand the economy.
  • Obese American workers may actually lose money on the job since a 2010 study found that obese women on average make 9% less than non-obese women workers.
  • Dying as an obese person also has additional costs since it requires larger, and more expensive caskets, or more crematorium costs.
  • But Gupta points out other, non-financial costs: “The costs are not just related to health care. There’s a cost for people who can’t reach their full potential in terms of education, employment, mobility, physical activity, and productivity.”
Pretty depressing situation and statistics. This is a massive public health disaster and Obama Care somehow missed this root cause. Obama and his healthcare legislation tried to apply a half ass insurance solution to a truly massive public health issue. Thus, no wonder that it is has failed miserably to curb the ever rising healthcare costs in this country, the legislation never addressed and attacked this root cause.

The closing paragraphs spell out what the problem means to every American: “It's clear obesity has stopped being a problem that's only one for those affected and is now a national crisis. The country literally cannot afford the impending costs. Shifting investments toward encouraging healthy environments and behaviors rather than paying for expensive life threatening chronic disease is the only affordable - and humane - response.”

“Obesity costs everybody. Nobody can escape. Someone has to pay the bill.” 

And thanks to the failure of Obama Care, we have lost about six years in actually addressing a true root cause of this massive American problem.

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