Jul 27 2009
Probably one of the most important articles on Health Care costs verses access came out in the Washington Post today, showing why cheaper is deadlier in this key area of our economy:
In the 1960s, the chance of dying in the days immediately after a heart attack was 30 to 40 percent. In 1975, it was 27 percent. In 1984, it was 19 percent. In 1994, it was about 10 percent. Today, it’s about 6 percent.
Over the same period, the charges for treating a heart attack marched steadily upward, from about $5,700 in 1977 to $54,400 in 2007 (without adjusting for inflation).
The treatment of coronary heart disease — of which heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction, is the most significant component — this year will cost about $93 billion. It’s a huge contributor to the $2.3 trillion annual bill for medical care in the United States. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 35 percent of deaths in America and has been the leading cause of death every year since 1900, except 1918, the year of the Spanish flu epidemic.
The evolution of heart attack treatment over the past three decades is a story of doing more things to more people at greater expense with better results. It is a portrait in miniature of medicine in the United States.
A majority of an individual’s burden on the health care system comes in the waning years of life – whether those years are triggered by old age are serious conditions. The only way to significantly reduce costs is to reduce access to these expensive life saving treatments.
We were at a family reunion this weekend and explaining to my mid to late 80’s parents what Obamacare meant. They represent perfect examples of expensive life saving care that was provided over the last decade or two. Their lives would be different if rationed care based on expense and lifeÂ expectancy/productivity was in place over their retirement years. I seriously doubt they would still be with us. They pay for medicare gap insurance – something that would be phased out under the liberal health care bill in the House, where profit and private industry are seen as the bane to health care.
The baby boomers are now looking at how they will deal with their final years, and Obamacare should scare the hell out of them. As still one of the largest voting and purchasing generations out there, losing these key voters would spell disaster for Obama and his liberal cohorts in congress. In fact, they may already have sealed the fate of this risky liberal schemes.
Update: Another important factoid from this great article:
That transformation has saved the lives of millions of Americans.
In 1970, the death rate from coronary heart disease was 448 per 100,000 people. In 1980, it was 345. In 1990, it was 250. In 2000, it was 187. In 2006, it was 135 — less than a third of what it was during Topol’s senior year of high school.
Well, we can save money by not saving lives. But look on the plus side. You will definitely get an appointment in order to get the bad news from the doctor on why the government deemed you unworthy of saving. That is what is meant by “access” under Obamacare.