Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Caveat Emptor

(Pursuing universal access to health care while reigning in the spiraling cost of care and bracing for an army of aging baby boomers is a modern policy nightmare. Compounding the challenge is a public all too used to over-consuming everything from prescription medication to flat screen TVs. In this Washington Post article, MacGillis points out the more problematic elements of any health care reform, and suggests that a substantial behavioral shift may be necessary if America's medical infrastructure is to survive the coming financial apocalypse...)

In Retooled Health-Care System, Who Will Say No?

By Alec MacGillis
Updated: 07/08/2009

The question came from a Colorado neurologist. "Mr. President," he said at a recent forum, "what can you do to convince the American public that there actually are limits to what we can pay for with our American health-care system? And if there are going to be limits, who . . . is going to enforce the rules for a system like that?"

President Obama called it the "right question" -- then failed to answer it. This was not surprising: The query is emerging as the ultimate challenge in reining in health-care costs that now consume $2.5 trillion per year, or 16 percent of the economy. How will tough decisions be made about what to spend money on? In a country where "rationing" is a dirty word, who will say no?

Read on...


  1. Such an interesting panel discussion last night ... we have so many issues to consider in lowering the cost growth rate that is so critical for our nation's future.

    In an NIH report, NCCAM reports: "Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over the previous 12 months, according to a 2007 government survey. CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and acupuncture that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine. CAM accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of total health care expenditures ($2.2 trillion²) and 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket expenditures (conventional out-of-pocket: $286.6 billion² and CAM out-of-pocket: $33.9 billion¹) on health care in the United States."

    "Approximately 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM for health and wellness or to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, according to data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)³. The CAM component of the NHIS was developed by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

    Isn't this telling us something that we ought to heed in healthcare? People are willing to spend their increasingly scarce dollars on what they believe is empathic and effective care- one that views human beings as much more than a disease entity and teaches what Hippocrites so passionately tried to teach his own students: to treat the whole person and not separate the poor human creature into psyche and somas and miss the integrity of the big picture.