Saturday, January 22, 2011

Health Care Reform -- The Morbid State of the American Health Care System

 This post is almost entirely pasted from the Fall 2009 Lapham's Quarterly journal, the "Medicine" issue.

The morbid state of the American health care system is described movingly. Please read Mr. Lapham's words - and weep for the millions in the United States who will suffer as a result of our system of human care.

"The United States leads the world in the advancements of medical science, its hospitals splendidly equipped with Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines and artificial hearts, its doctors gloriously decorated with Nobel Prizes, but between 44,000 and 98,000 patients die every year in American hospitals of iatrogenic infections or as the consequence of a mistaken diagnosis or a bungled operation. Medical error ranks as the country’s eighth leading cause of death, more deadly than breast cancer or highway accidents.

American hospitals and doctors are paid for the amount of care they produce, not for its effectiveness or its quality. As often as not the doctors don’t see the patients for whom they prescribe remedies; they look at test results and consult computer screens—their first care is for the treatment of paper.

Americans in 2007 paid $7,421 per capita for healthcare as opposed to $2,840 paid by the Finns and $3,328 by the Swedes, but life expectancy in the United States is not as long as it is in thirty other countries, among them Finland and Sweden; the first-year infant-mortality rate in the United States is higher than it is in some forty other countries, among them Slovenia and Singapore. A newborn child stands a better chance of survival in Minsk and Havana than it does in New York or Washington.

The money allocated to healthcare in most other developed countries (in Canada and France as well as in Germany and Japan) provides medical insurance for the entire citizenry. Not in America; 46 million citizens (15 percent of the population) are uninsured. Patients with sufficient funds can buy a brain implant or a bionic eye, but an estimated 22,000 people died in 2006 for lack of insurance; 59 million other people reported their inability to receive needed medical attention.

Together with the cornucopia of drugs for all seasons (Zoloft, Lipitor, Botox, Viagra, etc.) the American healthcare shopping mall now offers expensive diagnostic tests (CT scan, bone scan, spinal tap, etc.) that allow upward of six million Americans to enjoy the benefit of high-priced bodily home improvements—titanium knees, Peruvian kidneys, two-hour erections, and a sunny disposition. Of the 1.5 million Americans expected to declare personal bankruptcy this year, 60 percent will be forced to do so to pay their medical bills.

"A miracle drug is any drug that will do what the label says it will do"

The Pfizer Circle of Hell
(Lapham's Quarterly, Medicine, Fall 2009)
 The ratio between the country’s shelters for battered women and its shelters for stray animals stands at three to one in favor of the animals...."

"...Together with the steadily accumulating inventory of life-changing drugs, the voluminous additions to the body of medical knowledge have come at increasingly higher costs, which, in the 1970s, prompted the development of health maintenance organizations that placed the country’s medical profession in the hands of insurance companies. The new set of procedures inducted doctors into the service of a private enterprise designed to make and manage money, not care for sick people. Whether in the form of simple prescription or complicated surgery, treatment requires “pre-authorization” from a corporation seeking to lower its “medical-loss ratio” (i.e., to reduce the amount of money spent on the care of the patients) in order to improve the health of its profit margin and preserve the life of its stock price. The administrative staff welcomes penitents enjoying the prior benefit of perfect health and rules out the people apt to need help, a separation of the wheat from the chaff in line with the teachings of the Christian Church that equate illness with sin...."

Physicians Bleeding a Boy, by Giovanni Mattia Tiberion, 1475

"...It isn’t that the country lacks for competent and caring doctors, but too many of them have been infected with the virus of the profit motive, overburdened with the ceremonial filling out of forms and the cost of the medications inoculating them against the catastrophic illness of a conviction for criminal malpractice."

"...The “perplexed decompositions” added to the list of bankable diseases over the last twenty years (among them panic attack, bereavement, narcissistic personality disorder) have engendered the corollary expansion of the healthcare industry that now employs upward of fourteen million people in what has become the largest sector of the national economy. Like the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex invites the practice of large-scale fraud, the hospital surcharges for an apple or an artificial limb comparable to the cost overruns paid by the Pentagon for a cruise missile or a wrench. The “waste” and “inefficiency” in the system is its bone and marrow.

Of the $304 billion appropriation levied by the seven biggest pharmaceutical companies in 2007, $97 billion of the take was allotted to marketing and sales promotion ($27 billion in the form of free meals and drug samples given to attentive physicians), another $76 billion to payroll (earnings worth $29 million to the chief executive of Johnson & Johnson, $25 million to the chairman of Wyeth), lastly $40 billion (13 percent of the whole) to Research and Development...."

"...Any system that construes medical care as profit-bearing merchandise is by definition dysfunctional. The attempt to mark down the gifts of the human spirit to the measure of their weight in gold is an idiocy along the lines of the nineteenth-century attempt to cure tuberculosis by removing one lobe of an infected lung and filling the vacancy with ping-pong balls."

So after reading all of the above...

IT MIGHT BE that the high cost of health care in the United States is justified if the population's health is improving...but we all know that it isn't. There are so many chronic health care conditions and debilities that develop for years and years in the United States before they are ever diagnosed as a disease in progress. Pathological changes in the nervous, muscular, endocrine, and psychological systems are almost ALWAYS evident before the patient complains of symptoms. Substantial proof of this has been gathering over the past 30 years.

Metabolic Syndrome for instance (formerly called Syndrome X), is an example of a condition that and be and must be diagnosed as it is developing at the time when corrective measures can turn the course of the dis-ease around before it becomes a pathology.

Many if not most of the chronic health problems that afflict the American population can be ameliorated if they are diagnosed early enough!

The Conditions Associated with Metabolic Syndrome

Kidney Failure
Heart Attack

There is an approach to health care that helps the doctor understand functional health disorders (the early stages of disease processes) and that provides direction toward optimal treatment of these dysfunctions when they are still in the repairable stage.

It is the functional examination that includes applied kinesiology assessment and treatment.
“The body heals itself in a sure, sensible, practical, reasonable, and observable manner. ‘The healer within’ can be approached from without. The opportunity to use the body as an instrument of laboratory analysis is unparalleled in modern therapy; if one approaches the problem correctly, making the proper and adequate diagnosis and treatment, the response is satisfactory to both the doctor and the patient.”

“Applied kinesiology is something that can be performed with knowledge, with physiological facts, and with predictable certainty. It should be done, it can be done.”

-- George J. Goodheart, Jr. D.C., DIBAK
Founder of Applied Kinesiology

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