Thursday, May 14, 2009

Health Care Cost Reduction

Today, I received another Green Party Release on Single Payer Health Care. I think that there is a great deal of benefit in the Single Payer Health Care system but those benefits are mostly from the fact that it is the only way to ensure adequate coverage for the entire population. It will, in itself, do very little to reduce the cost of health care in America.

In order to reduce health care costs, we need to improve the health of our population and that is not going to be easy. I will look at a few additional things if you click Read more!.

To begin with, it is necessary to pay attention to the links between health care costs and environmental action / non-action. A recent article by Sarah Boseley, Health Editor from The Guardian (UK) warns us that "Climate change biggest threat to health".
Rising global temperatures would have a catastrophic effect on human health, the doctors said, and patterns of infection would change, with insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever spreading more easily.

Heatwaves such as occurred in Europe in 2003, which caused up to 70,000 "excess" deaths, will become more common, as will hurricanes, cyclones and storms, causing flooding and injuries.
I don't think that America is ready for malaria to become a disease we need to be concerned about. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is, thankfully, pouring significant money into the research needed to end epidemic malaria. I hope that they do the job for all the world.

This is really old news. I mentioned in early 2008 that Stanford University has released a study on the Health Consequences of Global Warming. That same page called attention to the $3 Billion / yr cost of Air Pollution in the San Joaquin Valley and the direct effect it has on young children.

If we are going to make radical changes in the cost of health care, it means that we have to make radical changes in our attitude about ecological issues.

In a similar manner, we need to make changes in life style to reduce the amount of obesity that is prevalent in modern society. The rising rates of diabetes, a long term chronic illness, is a significant component of our rising health care costs.
This Highlight summarizes findings from AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) using hospital care data to examine how diabetes-related complications affect health status, hospitalizations, and economic costs. For example:

* Cardiovascular disease and lower extremity amputations are significantly more likely to occur in patients with diabetes than those without the condition.
* Multiple hospitalizations are common among individuals with diabetes and certain vulnerable populations are more likely to experience multiple hospital stays.
* The complications associated with diabetes result in significant costs to the health care system, particularly for public insurance programs, and are largely preventable.
(US Dept. of Health and Human Services)
We still seem to complain about the costs but are unwilling to adapt our own lives. We must begin to view the problems of health care as ecological as well as administrative. We need both sets of solutions.

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