Why are Americans so excited about health care reform? Statements such as “don’t touch my Medicare” or “everyone should have access to advanced health care irrespective of cost” are in my estimation uninformed and visceral responses that indicate a poor 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 reached what some make reference to as an emergency stage. Let’s try to take a few of the emotion out from the debate by briefly examining how health care in this country emerged and how that 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 healthcare reform proposals and let’s look at the concepts help with by the Republicans?
Access to state of the art health care services is something we are able to 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 methods to pay for it is positively frightening. But once we shall see, after we know the facts, we will discover that achieving this goal will not 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 are able to personally try make things better.
A recently available history of American health care – what has driven the expenses so high?
Important elements of the Obama health care plan
The Republican view of healthcare – free market competition
Universal access to advanced healthcare – a worthy goal however, not easy to achieve
what can we do?
First, let’s get a little historical perspective on American healthcare. This is not intended to be an exhausted consider that history but it gives us an appreciation of the way the health care system and our expectations for this developed. What drove costs higher and higher?
To begin, 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 this war were not the result of actual combat but from what happened following a battlefield wound was inflicted. In the first place, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail’s pace and this caused severe delays in treating the wounded. Secondly, many wounds were subjected to wound care, related surgeries and/or amputations of the affected limbs which often led to the onset of massive infection. So you may survive a battle wound and then die as a result of health care providers who although well-intentioned, their interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a time 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 1 / 2 of the 20th century for some additional perspective and to bring us up to more modern times. Following the civil war there have been steady improvements in American medicine in both the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But 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 available to handle serious illnesses. Nearly all 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 however they had almost nothing with which to take care of these conditions.