A view from both sides of the street

September 17th, 2008 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

What do you do when you don’t have enough money to do what you need to do for you or your family’s health? I know, it’s a redundant question? You go without, delay or borrow from your future in the form of debt. According to Reed Abelson and Milt Freudenheim of the New York Times in their recent article Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs, as employers struggle to keep up with mounting costs to cover their employees, the average cost of an annual health care premium for that employee has nearly doubled since 2001, from $1800 to nearly $3300 a year.

Example after example is delineated in the Times article regarding those individuals who just can’t afford the challenges presented by the rising food and gasoline prices. Those featured families and individuals skip meds, wait longer to take sick children to their pediatrician or are facing staggering bills from health care institutions. According to the accounting firm, Deloitte, the average American income that goes toward health care expenses is now approaching 1/5 of their total household spending annually.

As a hospital administrator, it is never easy to listen to the general public throw stones at the medical industrial establishment, but when it comes to fancy, esoteric diagnostic tools, unproven drugs that can cost $6000 a dose or the very best physicians known to man, bring ‘em on becomes the hue and cry as we, the health care consumer wants nothing but the best for ourselves and our families. This is America. We deserve it.

Of course, if you are looking for elective surgery and you happen to live in England, you will wait on average 1.5 years for that intervention, and if you are in Scotland, it will be very close to 2.5 years before that same surgery is available.

My Democratic friends embrace the hope of the future through proposed health plans that insure the masses. My Republican friends warn of the horrible train wreck those plans will cause in hospital emergency rooms as every George, Dick and Conde will make their way to our hospitals with no barrier in place to prevent them from over running our already strained bastions of care.

Regardless of your political bent, it does seem unconscionable that we have nearly 48,000,000 uninsured accounted for by the government. Most of these uninsured are young, single moms and kids who either can’t or choose not to vote. (No one has ever believed that to be a co-incidence.) This figure also does not include the underinsured and quite possibly may not include any of the 50,000,000 illegal aliens. We are the only industrialized nation in the free world that does not have a true health policy for our citizens.

So what is the answer? The iron triangle of the best, fastest and cheapest health care is something that cannot exist in a system that is still hanging on ever so completely to an acute care based model when the vast majority of our health care challenges are now chronic care cases. We 78,000,000 Baby Boomers are taking more pills to control our varied maladies than existed in total just 20 years ago. Ask your pharmacist how many drugs there are now compared to 1988.

One very real answer to this health problem sometimes seems too simple. Our nearly $2 trillion in yearly health care expenditures includes less than four percent of its total dollars for preventative care. Much of our problems are about wellness.

So, wash your hands, drop some weight, exercise, cut out the saturated fats, stop smoking and live a less stressful life by doing something other than stare at the television…or else just wait for that little blue pill that will help you be skinny, tan and sexy, and then sell the family car to pay for it.



  1. Betty Chaney says:

    A good view from ‘both sides’. The only aspect that I feel could help others to a Great degree is the ‘passing on’ of unopened/sealed medication that a patient can no longer use.

    As a cancer survivor I had my pill chemo of Thal. removed from my treatment plan but could not contact the mail pharmacy in time to stop the shipment. When it arrived at my office I refused the shipment thinking it would be returned to the pharmacy and sold to someone else in need, that my insurance would not be charged. Silly me! The pharmacy called and questioned me and I advised them why I did what I did….and they then said my insurance would still be billed for the chemo AND I would have to pay my co-pay!

    ***So, not only does washing the hands, exercising and eating healthy foods help with health problems….but so would common sense in regard to the insurance carriers not paying for such situations.

    Aspects of health care start with common sense but get messed up somewhere along the way. This is added cost to the industry and very frustrating for us who would like to pass along health care products that are sealed and safe for others.

    I believe a bill is in the House or somewhere in the bowels of PA government to address this matter….but think of how much is already ‘wasted’.

  2. Mike says:

    I agree that the focus of healthcare has been and continues to be retrospective and not preventative. The notion of taking care of something before it breaks or makes a noise is not typically what people do. We see this mind set in everyday life. Taking care of our cars, our homes, etc. We should all take a lesson from the farming industry who are used to taking care of things so they don’t break. Planting in the spring so you have crops in the fall. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. A pretty simple concept.

    So in order to change from an acute care model and lean more towards wellness we need to somehow change the mindset of people. Show the value of prevention to them.

    We humans are showing that we have little regard for healthcare and our own health until we get sick or injured. To use your words we drink, we smoke, we eat way too much and then we sit around and groan that we have no energy, our clothes don’t fit and we can’t touch our toes. Well everything has a price – everything.

    On a side note, your new web design is quite nice.

  3. Joe says:

    Where did you get your figures of 1.5 years and 2.5 years waiting times for England and Scotland?

    I think this could be way off the mark as the NHS is currently working towards 18 week waits, see


  4. Steven Hales says:

    Joe, The NHS data show that total hospital volume changed very little over the last two years but wait times improved from 48% meeting goal to 90% meeting goal. One conclusion is that since total volume did not change queueing is occuring elsewhere in the system or that discriminatory practices are not being practiced as frequently.

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  7. ciub says:

    Here’s the latest on the conference’s top players who are projected to go from playing on Saturdays to starring on Sundays.

    1. LB Jarvis Jones, 6-3, 241, Georgia

    Why he has the top spot: Jones’ battle with an ankle injury hasn’t changed his status as the top overall draft prospect in the SEC. He missed his second full game due to the

    injury in the Bulldogs’ 29-24 win over Kentucky on Saturday. Still, Jones remains a versatile defender who can rush the pass or drop into coverage. He’ll need a strong second

    half of the season to maintain his lofty draft status.

    Season stats (five games): 36 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 9.5 TFLs, 3 forced fumbles, 15 QB hurries, INT.

    Player ranking: Jones remains fifth overall, and he is the second-highest outside linebacker in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.

    Up next: The Bulldogs’ next game is against Florida. Jones returned to practice on Monday and is expected to play. Georgia will need him against a Florida team that averages 213

    yards per game on the ground.

    2. QB Tyler Wilson, 6-3, 220, Arkansas

    Why he has the second spot: After a slow start for Wilson and the Razorbacks, the senior QB has turned it around in the last few weeks before having a bye last weekend. He’ll

    have a chance to solidify his status as a first-round pick with games against Mississippi State, LSU and South Carolina still on the schedule.

    Season stats (six games): 124 of 205 (60.5 percent) for 1,957 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs.

    Player ranking: Wilson is ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect and is the third-highest ranked QB in CBSSports.com’s latest player rankings.

    Up next: The Razorbacks play Ole Miss this weekend. The Rebels are ranked No. 65 nationally in scoring defense, so Wilson should have a chance to put some good numbers up.

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