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Opinion April 2016

Some Thoughts on Health Care Costs: Are We Paying More to Be Sicker than Ever?

By Dan O'Connor

To see this in action over time, just look at our 5 and 10 cent stores of a few years ago. They are now 99 cent stores. At this rate, in a few more years they will be 99 dollar stores! In reality, prices are not going up. It is actually the value of our dollar steadily going down.

There was a time when life was simple, straight forward and quite practical. There was a time when common sense was used to handle everyday occurrences and situations. Sadly, those days are very much in our past.
   
A good example of this may be in what we view as modern-day medicine. I am quite qualified to write and opine on this subject being that my uncle used to shoe horses for a veterinarian!
   
It was not very long ago that medical services, like just about all other goods and services, were a cash and carry business. It was that way in the early 1960s. I remember it well. Just as with a mechanic shop, bootmaker or watch repair shop; you get things patched up, you're happy with the result and you pay as you leave.

Simple, effective and practical wouldn’t you say?

I remember an occasion around 1963 when I was weak, rundown and in bad shape. I walked into a clinic and within a few minutes got to see a doctor. She diagnosed me with having a bug. She gave me some tablets, [antibiotics I think]. I may also have gotten a chest x-ray. Well within half an hour I was done and on my way out the door. As I left I paid the charges. The amount was $5!

That was not unusual for the time. We had a doctor’s office next door to our home in New York. I cannot recall a visit to his clinic costing more than $10.

Of course you can say: “That was back then and there has been a great deal of inflation since.” That is a deliberate mass misconception. Inflation is not raising prices. It is, as the word implies, expansion or increased volume of something. In this case, it is more dollars created. Using this method, the government can give out more “freebies,” buy votes and retain power as people's savings decline.

To see this in action over time, just look at our 5 and 10 cent stores of a few years ago. They are now 99 cent stores. At this rate, in a few more years they will be 99 dollar stores! In reality, prices are not going up. It is actually the value of our dollar steadily going down.

There is a theory that what is a cure or solution at one time degrades into a disease or problem a few decades later. That is very much the case with our medical care system today. But when you get government taking over what should be our personal responsibilities and offering us the very best possible care at little or no cost to us, what should you expect? When you get lawyers, insurance companies, HMOs, and especially big pharmaceuticals involved, I say keep a hand on your wallet and stay away from doctors and hospitals as much as possible.

All of these extra costs, government control, bureaucracy and time spent on the medical treadmill might [in a stretch] be justified if they were producing miracle cures. Are they? Are people in our society looking and feeling younger, healthier and more fit than in the early 1960s?

When I view the patients at clinics, hospitals and my VA center today, I do not see that. I see obese men and women, many of them with walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. Most are on a dozen or more medications, all of which have side effects and complications. Their lives seem to revolve around their medical conditions, their aches, pains and disabilities. They are [or seem to me] totally dependent on their doctors and their drugs. But are they doing them any good?

So how did people manage all those years in the past without drugs, surgeries, managed care and especially all those mind numbing psychiatric drugs that a sizable portion of our population is dependent on? I think they managed very well actually!

For a change, I would say that health, wellness and activity should be the goals sought. Diet, exercise and prevention of disease need to be stressed rather than treating the symptoms of the sick.

So I have a revolutionary idea for a new and improved affordable care system. I say we should go back to a simple, Well all right. That will be $5. Please pay on your way out.

Well all right. That will be $5. Please pay on your way out.

 

Dan O’Connor can be reached a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .