The Affordable Care Act and the furor and fury resulting from it is a smokescreen, an almost deliberate diversion from the real issue in this country relative to medicine, and that's the turning of our Medical model into just another profit-making industry.
The one thing that this attempt at providing affordable insurance for all Americans does not do, and therefore why it will ultimately fail, is to institute price controls, and probably rollbacks.
I understand that some treatments are expensive. I understand that cutting-edge technology can be expensive as well. That does not excuse the fact that the costs of most medical procedures increase annually at rates sometimes 10 times the rate of inflation, that insurance costs are rising at 10 to 15 percent per year while inflation averages perhaps 2 percent, that pharmaceutical companies are amongst the most profitable of any industry in America, nor why the drugs they sell cost two to three times as much here as elsewhere.
Physicians have always been very well compensated for a profession like no other, requiring more education than most, but nowhere in the world are physicians as highly compensated as they are in America. For all the blame placed on others, on government regulations and such, on frivolous lawsuits, on extraordinary jury awards for malpractice, for all of that, the largest reason for the cost of health care is greed on the part of everyone involved in it. Certain things in life, certain aspects of any decent society, ought to be above the motivation of pure profit.
Is patient care the main purpose, or is it the time currently allotted for your own physician to make rounds now available for that physician to squeeze more office appointments (more money) into their day? I'm curious as to how this won't add another expense line to your hospital bill.
Looking at the recent events of Lake Shore Hospital closing and the layoffs at Brooks hospital, and certain titles are being bandied about, titles such as "CEO" and "Boards of Directors" and the like. Doesn't that sound a bit too much like a manufacturing plant? And when you look at the excesses of those titled individuals, it does seem a tad too close to say, the banking industry, than what the average person expects from a health-care provider. We're talking about 460 jobs in a county hemorrhaging jobs of late.
People complain about insurance costs, but does anyone ever ask the question as to why insurance costs are rising annually at sometimes five times the rate of inflation? Does anyone look at their profits? Ask anyone knowledgeable about lobbying and they'll tell you one of the biggest is that industry. It would appear that although the purpose of the insurance industry should be obvious, that every time the insurance industry has to actually pay out they raise their rates.
Of course, that's not much worse than raising gas prices in the middle of an obvious glut, but this is health care after all. I don't know about you, but I expect a little more humanism involved.
Why can I purchase a drug in Canada, made by an American Pharmaceutical company, for one-10th the price it sells for in America? Once again, take a good look at the lobbying costs, and even more so, the advertising costs, for those companies. I have to shake my head at the money spent to advertise a product I can't get without a prescription!
I do understand that doctors work hard, and perform a needed task for us all. I understand the costs of the education required. But again, in America, even allowing for any and all economic factors, in general American physicians are the richest physicians on the planet. And unfortunately, that attitude spreads throughout the health-care industry, with everyone wanting a larger piece of the pie, from dentists to physical therapists. If you read much about Medicaid frauds, who are the largest offenders, individuals or the doctors treating them?
One can blame the government all they want to. One can blame regulations and ambulance-chasing lawyers all they want to. One can even try to blame so-called "Obamacare," even though it wasn't in play during the beginning of the incredible rise in medical costs. However, to do that requires one to totally ignore the business model that has taken over each and every aspect of our health-care system, and the negative drain on our entire economy.
It all boils down to greed on the part of all of the players in the game. The only victims are those in need of care.
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident.