What has irked me most about the debate over health care reform is how it’s not really about reforming health care. When the term “health care reform” is used, it only refers to how health care is paid for. It’s only about money, about dollar signs. “Health care reform” does not refer to the way we do health care. Yet, that is where I feel a huge amount of reform needs to happen, and if that DID happen, costs would most likely decrease.
I read an interesting op-ed piece from the Washington Post today. You can find the entire original article here. The author, Richard Cohen, spends plenty of time bashing Republicans, which doesn’t impress me, as he could have made his point just the same while equally bashing both political parties, as both parties are clueless about this topic. However, the author makes a good point about how the United States really does need a reform of the system of how we actually accomplish health care. Here are some excerpts from the article:
No American, certainly not one about to occupy a leadership position in our government, could possibly call the American health-care system “the best health care system in the world” [as John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House, did] … For statistical refutation, we need only refer to the CIA’s World Factbook (no lefty think tank, to be sure) and check the health statistics. The United States is 49th in life expectancy. Our proud nation bests the Libyans in this category but not Japan, France, Spain, Britain or, of course, Italy. You not only live about two years longer in Italy, but you eat better, too.
The same doleful situation applies to infant mortality. This is the saddest of all categories since it relates to infants who don’t make it to their first birthday. The CIA tells us that the nations that do the worst in this category are, not surprisingly, mostly in Africa. Then comes much of Asia and parts of South America, but when you start getting up there a bit, Cuba does better than the United States and so do Italy, Hungary, Greece, Canada, Portugal, Britain, Australia and Israel, among others. This should be an embarrassment to us all – but, clearly, it is not…
Looking elsewhere – think tanks, etc. – Boehner might come across a category that health-care expert and former Post reporter T.R. Reid labels “avoidable mortality.” Among the richest nations, the United States is 19th of 19. America is awful at treating asthma, diabetes and kidney disease. If you have any of these, it’s just your bad luck that you’re not Japanese or French . . . or, really, anything other than American. The United States does do well with breast and prostate cancer, but these are represented by politically potent lobbies…
The United States spends upward of 17 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. European nations spend about 8 percent – and their citizens are actually healthier.
Being an advocate of natural childbirth, I have known that statistic about infant mortality for a long time. In the documentary movie “The Business of Being Born,” the point is strongly made how the United States spends more money on childbirth than practically any other industrialized nation, and yet we have one of the worst infant mortality (and mother mortality!) rates of any industrialized nation. More money doesn’t necessarily equal better care or a better outcome. If that fact is true in childbirth, it’s not surprising that it would be true for the rest of healthcare, too.
The whole “health care reform” debate rankles me to no end, because no one in a position of power is talking about real reform of how we keep people healthy. Instead, it becomes a big game of numbers, and that just makes me sad. Neither political party gets it. And there’s certainly no chance that alternative methods of health, such as homeopathy and chinese medicine and herbal therapies, will be covered when the big “health care reform” begins to take effect.
I guess we’ll just have to look forward to being healthy for good in heaven.