Tag Archive for 'Insurance'

Healthcare Revolution

Europe is able to have successful and affordable Healthcare, so why can’t we. Well, the answer might be right on the tip of our tongues. We have an obesity rate of 64.5% vs. a 27% and 38% obesity rate for European females and males, respectively. (The European obesity rate is increasing at an alarming rate due to what I believe is due to poorer nutrition, the increase of fast food chains, and to many extents, the McDonaldization of Society, where quality is substituted for quantity). I found a brilliant analysis of the single problem we have with Healthcare and what must be done to change it in this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. The author, Michael Pollan points out that the single biggest problem with Healthcare is not the system itself but America’s food industry, “a second even more powerful industry,” even more powerful than Insurance. The American diet most clearly leads to health problems in the future.  Super size meals, dollar menus, pound burritos, pretty much everything the Fast Food Industry puts on the table is fodder for the Healthcare industry. Even the salads and healthier food they have put on the menu aren’t as healthy as they appear to be. A salad with heavy dressing is over 1000 calories (like a Chipotle Burrito), and most people, because they think salad is healthy will get fries to complement said salad. You can thank the drive thru for that Type 2 diabetes as well as the fact that you have no insurance. And sure, to an lower to average income American eating 3 burgers, fries and a soda for as much as you would pay for a cup of fruit and a bagel is very tempting. What must be done aside from fixing the Healthcare system of its flaws is to tackle the giant food system and the American way of eating. By providing Americans with cost-effective and healthy eating, we will decrease the burden we are putting on the Healthcare system. If we get the health insurance industry involved in the fight over the farm bill, which they certainly will because they see the profits in having a healthy population, then we can see a true step forward for Healthcare Reform and cutting Healthcare costs.  While Pollan believes the fight should be between “Big Food and Big Insurance,” I also believe that the Healthcare Industry will side with Big Food since it throws money their way.   It looks like a we have a battle of the bigs, I hope us little ones just don’t get lost in the fog.

A Generational Battle Awaits

The baby boomers and their kids are involved in serious debate over Social Security, Medicare and their respective futures.  The Social Security program is clearly running out of money, according to the Social Security Trustees report, if we do nothing, negative cash flow will commence in 2017, and all the money will be gone by 2040.  At this point in time, the boomers and their children are both supplying social security but come 2011, there will begin to be a turnaround as more and more boomers, eventually 76 million come 2029, become benefactors of the program. 

  Add to this problem the fact that life expectancy at birth is about 76 years old and life expectancy at 65 is now 17 years and there is something economically uneasy about the situation. As boomers are living longer, their medical expenses are increasing, so where are all the workers to cover these increasing costs? Well we don’t have enough workers to cover these expenses, so serious debate, as is happening now, must take place as to the next steps.  Someone, or rather a particular demographic, is going to have to cover the cost, so what is the best way to settle this without causing a generational debate. It seems boomers’ children are going to have to carry the weight of their parents but as Garver states in his article “Social Security Sets the Stage for Generational Warfare,” “Because boomers’ kids neither created the Social Security problem not let it fester more than 40 years, the problem is potentially one of generational warfare.  And boomers’ kids would hold the moral high ground by reminding their boomer parents about being taught to take responsibility for one’s own mistakes.

  There are many plans in the works about ensuring the future of Social Security and Medicare, and in a recent New York Times article, “A Basis is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly” the boomers have some reason to fear about the future of Medicare as they have known it under the Obama administration.  In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month, only 23 percent of respondents over the age of 65 felt they would be better off if health reform passed. Younger respondents were more optimistic To many boomers Obama’s cutting of healthcare costs, and combined emphasis on effectiveness of certain programs has lead them to see that he wants to curb some of Medicare’s services.  Many are even going so far as to say that Obama is implementing so called “death squads” that will decide people’s medical fates in the last parts of their lives.  While these death squads are one extreme viewpoint and takeaway from a lengthy and constantly expanding (1,017 pages) reform bill, it still reflects as one Gallup poll released last month shows that by a 3-to-1 margin, seniors believe that reform will reduce their access to healthcare.  But as one article in the “Christian Science Monitor” points out Why GOP sees Seniors as Crucial to Health Reform Battle” seniors are the ones with the time to attend town meetings, and they pay close attention to the details of their benefits. 

  Its going to be interesting to see if we will be able to find a common ground, where maybe if you are a senior who has enough money for private insurance you can wave benefits knowing that you will be benefiting from your children’s hard work.  As it seems right now, both sides are taking the extremes of the debate, but hopefully we find a middle ground because if we don’t it’s surely going to be an uphill battle.

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