Everybody's SickThe first of the two general trends discussed in these articles, and by Kevin, revolves around the concept of diagnosing anything and everybody with something, and then with that diagnosis, the treatment of it. This can readily be seen in the vast amount of "new" diseases that people have today compared to decades past. Many of the diseases weren’t ever diagnosed, known about, or treated in the past. Because everybody has something then more treatment is necessary, which over all raises costs for the whole system.
Cost's Of Keeping People AliveThe second idea circulating and brought up near the end of the Slate article was the cost of health care on the elderly versus on the youthful. The question is posed that maybe we spend too much on the old and dying, which increases health care costs for everyone. According to the article it costs us four and half times as much money to extend the life of an elderly person for one year than it does to extend the life of a young person for one year. Kevin poses that no matter what changes, if any, are made to our nation’s health care system the costs will keep rising until politicians address the disparity between extending life of young people versus the elderly.
The thought process is quite controversial I know, but I seem to agree with Kevin. If there is no limit to what we will spend to extend life a little longer then it doesn’t matter if we have private health care insurance, single-payer public coverage, or we just pay out of our cash and savings. No matter the system that last year of life will be more expensive for the elderly and will prop the costs of the entire system up. At some point the costs are not worth it.
Emphasis On PreventionObviously I am interested in extending life for myself, my family, and my readers but I feel that there are more appropriate ways to do this, namely through disease prevention, good nutrition, and physical activity. I’m currently reading (read) the book “The Blue Zones” (click through for my published book review), which delves into the world’s populations who live exceedingly long lives on average compared to American’s standards and ironically many of the people interviewed for the book did not have access to the care that we have today. Nor do the populations try to squeeze every last year out of their elderly through various expensive treatment programs.
There is no reason that we must do what we currently do. Prevention should be made first priority and then end of life care must be addressed either by individuals or public programs despite the political fire-storm that this dialogue might very well spawn.
Please, if you have time read the articles linked to above and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments… and if you haven’t checked out KevinMD’s blog you would be doing yourself a favor to do so now. It’s a marvelous daily read.