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Copyright by John T. Reed
Obama says he’s going to give 49 million people who do not now have it health insurance and the nation’s bill for health care will go down. If you believe that, stop reading. You’re too dumb to comprehend the rest of this.
One way Obama says he is going to cut costs is to emphasize preventive medicine. Well that makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, we all know that a stitch in time saves nine.
Actually, it does not make sense if you think it through.
Charles Krauthammer is a conservative newspaper columnist and regular Fox News contributor. He’s also a licensed medical doctor and psychiatrist. He’s great. I just added him to my living national treasures list. He should have been there before.
When asked about preventive medicine on Fox News, Krauthammer said it was a good thing for a number of reasons but lower cost was most definitely not one of them.
I researched and wrote about preventive medicine in the second edition of my book Succeeding which came out in 2008. It relates to that book because being healthy helps you succeed and enables you to enjoy your success.
As far as cost is concerned, preventive medicine does not cost less. It costs more.
1. Preventive medicine costs more money to pay for additional medicine, exams, tests, vaccinations, health club membership, and safety devices.
2. Preventive medicine causes people to live longer which costs more because they receive more medical care, not to mention Social Security benefits, during their longer lives.
3. Living longer means you are more likely to die of a degenerative disease that requires prolonged intensive health care and hospitalization.
The cheapest health care for the government would be if everyone died suddenly of a heart attack after they stop earning taxable wages but before they started colleting Social Security. Like I said in the title, “You’ve had a good life, now drop dead.”
In Succeeding, I listed six categories of preventive medicine:
1. good health habits including:
• diet quality
• diet quantity
2. regular physicals
3. getting recommended tests for detection of symptomless illnesses
4. recommended vaccinations
5. safer activities and places where you spend time
6. promptly getting professional advice when you have symptoms
Obama sets the diet quality and quantity example with his consumption of arugula from Whole Foods and his Somali warlord physique. But he smokes cigarettes. Sound preventive medicine would ban tobacco products. If not, the people who use them should not be eligible for health insurance that I contribute money to. Call use of tobacco a pre-existing condition—stupidity—that either excludes the user from all public health care or at least from health care that relates to tobacco use.
Same thing applies to fat people and alcoholics or problem drinkers and illegal drug users.
Obama may set an example with regard to exercise. We occasionally see him playing pick-up basketball. But he needs to work out more systematically every other day—both cardio and weight training. Maybe he could lead an exercise TV program daily like the Richard Simmons in Chief.
As far as hygiene is concerned, we’re gonna need daily inspections.
Basically, since good health habits are the main thing in preventive medicine, Obama is going to have to enact a law that requires universal daily attendance at a weigh-in, inspection of your personal hygiene, a drug test, and calisthenics. Let’s call it reveille. There’s even music for it. It sounds like this. He can bring all sorts of R. Lee Ermey types out of retirement to supervise it.
Persons who benefit from universal health care but who are AWOL from daily reveille will have a warrant issued for their arrest.
Overweight persons will be required to report to a fat boot camp where their food intake will be restricted and they will be required to exercise.
These steps will cost more money than the current heath care system.
Mandatory universal health care that emphasizes preventive medicine require mandatory physicals that are at least annual or more often for persons with certain risk factors. If you do not attend your scheduled physicals, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Similarly, according to your age and other risk factors, you will be required to get the tests recommended by the medical profession including sigmoidoscopies and breast exams. If you do not appear for your scheduled tests, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Ditto. You will get your flu shots, DPT, etc. No exceptions. These shots will kill some of you but not getting them will kill more of you. You’ve had a good life.
All hazardous activities will be outlawed, like riding motorcycles. All places frequented by humans like homes, workplaces, and public areas will be inspected periodically for safety hazards. If you have a safety hazard and do not correct it promptly, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Since dental care is part of your health and affects all of your health, daily brushing and flossing will be required and inspected for at reveille. Also, regular checkups will be mandatory and recommended dental therapies must be performed when recommended by your dentist. If you fail to take care of your teeth, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
All of the above will cost more than the current health care system.
The more tests you perform, the more false positive and false negative results you get. I lost half my thyroid gland to a false alarm benign lump that was discovered during my annual physical. False negatives cause you to ignore continuing symptoms that warrant a second or third opinion. In short, federally mandated mandatory preventive medicine will cause far more false test results and those, in turn, will waste more money.
Preventive maintenance is usually wise because a stitch in time saves nine. One is cheaper than nine.
But preventive maintenance is not wise in some cases because sometimes the stitch only saves one or a half a stitch. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis and be careful not to cross the point of diminishing returns.
From a strict dollar standpoint, much health care given to older persons is not cost effective given their likely remaining life span. Other countries that have universal health care deny much of the health care given in the U.S. to seniors. Preventive medicine increases the percentage of people who live to become seniors.
The stitch-in-time advice does not apply to many health-care decisions. For example, preventive medicine can prevent or delay heart attacks. But everyone has to die of something. Preventive medicine that prevents heart attacks will almost certainly result in the person in question dying of a far more expensive disease, like cancer or Alzheimers, not to mention all the health care costs they will trigger for other things during their expanded-by-preventive-medicine life span.
Preventive medicine is wise policy, but not because it reduces medical care costs. It raises them. Furthermore, most preventive medicine relates to lifestyle choices and the government will not dare make effective efforts to change those choices.
John T. Reed