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The Health Care Segment of The Economy: Your Money AND Your Life!

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Everyone needs to be healthy to make the most of their lives. Who wants to be sick, injured, or in pain? But we are stuck in an increasingly costly situation that provides inferior health outcomes for Americans, to the point of making health care unattainable.

If Americans are not healthy, they are less capable or cannot provide for themselves and their families. They cannot contribute to their communities or to the nation's economy and security.

  • More people need help to even survive. See the Medicaid and CHIP page for RI on Medicaid.gov: The number of Rhode Islanders enrolled in those two programs is 311, 323 in August 2018 -- just under one third of the state population(!)
  • Fewer people qualify for the military to defend the country. See the American Conservative, August 2018 article, "The Recruitment Problem the Military Doesn’t Want to Talk About." This is not just a drag on local communities, but a danger to the United States of America -- as fewer people are fit, educated, and healthy.

How have we been trying to fix this? Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, attempts to undo Obamacare.... All of these include insurance companies. Unfortunately, even single-payer proposals will not solve the underlying problems despite what progressives hope, because the plan is still market driven. Since the government began providing health services for increasing numbers of people, including paying for medications, there's a growing opportunity for making money from the entitlements. In particular, the drug companies have realized that a financial bonanza is theirs if they can extend patents to prevent generics, and keep the federal government from being able to negotiate lower prices. They also buy up companies manufacturing generics, close them down, then start up a new company to produce the now "orphan" drug and get exclusive market rights for seven years....  These are just some of the tactics.

Consequently, drug prices are through the roof: for instance: people are dying of Hepatitis C because the treatment that would cure them is in the range of $84,000. Various treatments and prices are mentioned if you search the web. But how about this from December 2016 on Cure Hep C, The Real Cost of Hepatitis C Medications:

"Everyone knows that the market price of these drugs is set according to its “perceived value” and has nothing to do with their production cost. However, very few of us know how much (or rather, how little) the wonder drugs cost to produce.

"Dr. Andrew Hill and his team from the University of Liverpool have recently performed a study about large-scale manufacturing of modern hepatitis C antivirals. The results are shocking, to say the least. The minimum manufacturing costs of antivirals were estimated at $0.2–$2.1 per gram. For instance, a 12-week course with daclatasvir and sofosbuvir would costs less than $200 dollars to produce. Put the exact same active ingredient in branded packaging (Daklinza® and Sovaldi®), and it is sold at $141,000. This actually means that the profit margins for hepatitis C meds are way higher than those of illegal drugs!"

See what Medicare Part D and Medicaid pays for drugs. you take and compare what you (and your insurance company) are paying. In the last year or two, I've noticed that my health plan provides some generic medications for $0 if ordered from their online pharmacy. Is this a way of distracting us so we don't notice the actual dollars we taxpayers are handing to drug companies through Medicare and Medicaid?

For-profit companies and for-profit and non-profit hospitals are billing Medicare and Medicaid not only for drugs, but also for services, eating up tax money that should be keeping schools, roads, and infrastructure in repair, funding renewable energy, etc. See the NY TImes, May 10, 2017, We're Bad at Death. Can We Talk?

"In their last month alone, half of Medicare patients go to an emergency department, one-third are admitted to an I.C.U., and one-fifth will have surgery — even though 80 percent of patients say they hope to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of life.

"Medicare spending for patients in the last year of life is six times what it is for other patients, and accounts for a quarter of the total Medicare budget — a proportion that has remained essentially unchanged for the past three decades." [Links in this article are original from NYT. - sk]

And health insurance costs keep going up. Medicare consumed the entire Social Security increase for 2018.

All of these approaches and activities are market- and profit-driven or controlled. They are not centered on what human beings need, which are primary care and preventive services. The market ought not to be driving health care. If money is to be made selling drugs, there is incentive to keep people sick or let more people get sick.

Why don't we see that it is wrong to profit from the misfortune of people who are sick, injured, near death, and in pain? The usual impersonal definitions of The Economy are indifferent to human suffering, placing selling goods and services above human life.

Health care is not just taking your money or your life -- It's moving toward taking your money AND your life!

{Are you angry yet?]

 Read on about  The Health Care Revolt