Health and Health Care Are Not the Same: Part 1

By | January 23, 2014 | 0 Comments


Some of the most common operations – including hip replacements and cataract surgery – will be rationed as part of attempts to save billions of pounds, despite government promises that front-line services would be protected. Patients’ groups have described the cuts as “astonishingly brutal.”
The Telegraph, London

ObamaCare will exclude top hospitals including Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Fox News, New York

Health and health care are closely related, but they are not the same. Until a few generations ago, doctors could do little for most illnesses. There were vaccines to prevent smallpox and diphtheria, but there were no treatments for most infectious diseases.
Sulfa drugs, the first effective treatment for some bacterial infections, were developed in the 1930s. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, came into use in the mid-1940s. Treatment for some viral infections became available only recently. When people developed heart disease in the 1950s, the only treatments were nitroglycerin for chest pain and digitalis for heart failure. Many modern techniques of surgery, including coronary bypass, had yet to be perfected.
So how did our ancestors survive to allow us to be here today? Read accounts of Civil War surgery, and you will wonder how anyone managed to live long enough to have children, much less to reach old age. Yet many people did exactly that. How?
They took care of themselves and each other as best they could. Only a part − and often a small part − of health is determined by health care. The rest is determined by heredity, by lifestyle, and by external circumstances such as war, famine, and epidemics.
We are told that despite all the money we spend on health care, America does not rank with the best in regard to infant and maternal mortality, or in regard to life expectancy. In fact, the difference is minimal. Life expectancy for the European Union is 78.67 years, while that for the U.S. is 78.11 years − only six months shorter.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” He did not say, “If I might get an extra six months of life, I’ll give up my liberty.” But what if we give up much of our liberty, and in return don’t even get the six months?
Advocates of ObamaCare loudly complain about the expense of the last six months of life. So they plan to cut health care for the elderly, the disabled and the chronically ill − even if they are veterans. An official publication encourages veterans to go without expensive care for chronic illnesses. Under ObamaCare, this “end-of-life counseling” will be given to all elderly or disabled people.
● How, exactly, do you cut funding for chronic care, and at the same time extend life expectancy? You don’t. You shorten life expectancy, but you lie about it.
● How, exactly, do you give “end-of-life counseling” to people whose lives are not ending, without promoting the idea that their lives should end?
America is responsible for over 60% of the recent Nobel Prizes in Medicine and for the majority of advances in health care. America has the best survival rates for most forms of cancer. Cancer and heart disease are our two biggest killers. We do well with these, so why isn’t our life expectancy even longer? Here is a clue: Most cancer and heart disease deaths occur after age 60. But 12.8% of Americans never reach the age of 60.
So what is killing Americans before the age of 60? Americans are. The number-one cause of death for African American males from the ages of 15 to 34 is homicide. Faster ambulance response and more trauma centers may reduce this figure somewhat. But clearly, this is not a problem that can be solved by better health care.
Moreover, if we control for deaths from traffic accidents or homicide, on which health care has less effect, the United States has the highest life expectancy. I’ll bet serious money you didn’t read that in the pro-ObamaCare mainstream media.
Similarly, we can spend more money for prenatal and obstetric care. But if women come across the border eight months pregnant, never having seen a doctor, is the fetal and maternal mortality a problem of health care? If pregnant and nursing mothers drink alcohol and use illegal drugs, can obstetricians solve the problem?
If young people rot out their bodies, minds, and souls with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, “bath salts,” or who-knows-what, can doctors clean up the mess? How many fatal overdoses and cases of hepatitis and AIDS will it take to convince us that government-run health care is not a cure-all?

“Universal Coverage”

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