Currently viewing the tag: "Obamacare"

Ready for some controversy? Here goes: Our illusion that death is “bad” is costing us oodles in unnecessary health care, prolonging pain and suffering, and preventing people from finding beauty in their inevitable transformation. According to a recent report, more and more Americans are being treated to death—that is, receiving costly and often ineffective care, instead of choosing to die in dignity and comfort.

More than 80% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to chronic and progressive illnesses such as cancer and heart failure. Of these, more than 80% say they would like to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of their lives; yet in actuality, Americans are being treated aggressively until their last dying breath.  Here are the numbers:

  • The average time spent in hospice and palliative care (focused on comfort without curing) is decreasing.  In 2008, one third of people receiving hospice care had it for one week or less.
  • Hospitalizations during the last six months of life are rising: from 1,302 per 1,000 Medicare recipients in 1996 to 1,441 in 2005, Dartmouth reports.
  • 12% of cancer patients who died in 1999 received chemo in the last two weeks of life, up from nearly 10 percent in 1993.
  • Almost 20% of patients with colorectal cancer that has spread are on at least their fourth chemotherapy drug. The same goes for roughly 12% of patients with metastatic breast cancer, and for 12% of those with lung cancer. The analysis is based on more than 60,000 cancer patients.

These numbers are particularly concerning since treating chronic illness in the last two years of life eats up nearly one-third of all Medicare dollars.

This controversy lies in that some people believe we should try to extend life under all circumstances. As long as an inkling of hope remains, some say, people should fight on. And the controversy is as much political as it is moral. During the debates over universal health coverage (Obamacare), opponents stressed that health care rationing would take place, and that “death panels” would be responsible for determining who received further care and who was left to die.

Although I find this notion and fear of death panels ridiculous, I do think that our obsession with life at all costs dishonors the magnificence of the human life cycle. We are born, we live, we die.  It has been said that the only thing certain in life is death, and in that we are all the same. Not one person walking the planet today will be alive in 150 years.  In fact, neither will our planet live forever, nor our sun—all things move on to the next transformation.

Does this mean people should not fight for their lives? Well, it depends. To a 92-year-old, I’d say, “For what?” However, to a 22-year-old diagnosed with lung cancer, I’d say yes…with a catch. If you have an inspired purpose, something driving you to live, I believe you can beat the odds. But the purpose must be a part of your essence, a drive so strong that not even the sands of time can keep you from completing it. It cannot be some fabricated deal you try to cut with your maker in an attempt to hold on; it must be in your heart, truly a part of you. Even then you won’t escape death for long. Death is inevitable for all of us—something for the young and healthy to think about regarding their own life’s purpose, and acting on your dreams…now!

No I don’t know for sure if having deep inspirational purpose will extend your life, but my intuition tells me it is so. I think about some of the lives we have had the honor of observing, like Michael Jackson’s or Tupac Shakur’s, believing that some people know when they are not long for this earth. When we observe how some people work long and hard at the ends of their lives to complete “unfinished business,” it humbles you to the magnificence of living on purpose.

As far as dying is concerned, it is true that we all have opinions on how we will handle the inevitable, until it is our time to go. Our survival instinct—the one hard-wired into all living things—makes it very challenging to accept death as we imagine within our philosophical belief system, but we can all ultimately appreciate that transformation is all there is; and one day everyone of us will move on to the next experience. We can fear it, or we can see the beauty in the transition and be grateful. Death is the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of a new one.

*This post is dedicated to my role model and inspiration, Nate Pressman, a lover of life and God.  You are dignified and beautiful in all your forms, Grandpa; and you will be with us, around us, always. We love you.

Health care trumps sick care again, but this time on the road. That’s right, health care traveled to sick care’s arena–the illness center–and beat sick care at its own game. Booyah!

A recent Japanese study showed that children taking 1,200 IU of vitamin D supplements daily during the winter and early spring helped prevent seasonal flu and asthma attacks. A timely victory in my analysis of true health care versus government-championed sick care.

Sick care pushes the seasonal flu shot, which my regular readers might recall has been fingered by experts as inconclusive in its effectiveness. Proponents of health care, on the other hand, myself included, really push upping the vitamin D intake. I think 1,200 IU is pretty good for children, and most adults need much more, like 5,000 IU per day. As we become more aware of the pervasiveness of vitamin D insufficiency in all Americans, including children, getting adequate sunlight and supplementing becomes paramount.

The study conducted at Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo showed that children taking the vitamin D supplements were almost half as likely as catching the flu as those taking placebo. And as an added benefit, children taking vitamin D were almost six times less likely to suffer an asthma attack. Holy inhalers! That’s quite a hit to pharmaceutical manufacturers. You mean, that a simple $8 bottle of vitamin D can prevent what a $30.00-$60.00 Albuterol inhaler treats. Well bless my Obamacare–I wonder if vitamin D is covered on the plan.

According to Dr. Adit Ginde, of University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health: “This is the first time a study has been done that rigorously shows that vitamin D supplementation can reduce a type of influenza in a dedicated clinical trial.” Ginde and colleagues published a study a year ago showing that asthmatics with lower vitamin D levels were at five times the risk for colds and flu.

Take that, sick care. Another victory in the arena of truth in health. I’ll keep ’em coming.

A very intelligent lady posed an excellent question to me the other day. After asking me what my message to the world is, she said, “Don’t you think that the medical profession should have a hand in changing health care?” I said, “Most certainly, but I don’t think that on its own it can ever change the mind-frame immersed in this non-health system.”Let’s take a step back and talk about what I mean. Obviously, this conversation started because of the celebrated, but not yet passed, health care reform bill. The young lady wanted to know my opinion on this historic measure. Truth is, I don’t really care one way or the other what happens with regard to a national health care policy. Doesn’t change a thing as far as I can see. Politically speaking, though, it was a victory of grand proportions. Obamacare achieved what had been unattainable for more than 60 years–a nationalized American health care law. Bravo!

But from a health perspective, is this really the change we’ve been waiting for? Is this momentous piece of legislation going to improve the health of all Americans? Doubt it. No, more directly: Obamacare might give more Americans medical insurance, but it will worsen health, period!

How do I know? Simple. Medical care is not health care. Emotional non-thinkers think it is. Fine. It’s not and I can prove it. Medical care is sick care–it excels in saving lives. Saving lives is not health care. For the ignorant mind that scoffs at the notion, then certainly medical insurance is right up there with cell phones and Nikes as something every American must posses–because that’s equality. Equality has nothing to do with health. Health is not a right, it is a condition; more accurately, it is self-administered, self-regulated condition. The same morons that believe medical insurance equals health don’t really care about health or health care at all–it’s ideological for them. My foolish party politics are better than your’s are. Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya, nya.

So what would real health care reform look like? It would actually involve improving health (go figure). Should the medical profession have a hand in this? Yes, but they will never seriously push it, because there ain’t no money in healthy people (we can all do that for next to nuttin’). There’s a vested interest in sick people, even if it’s not talked about or simply part of the professional unconscious.

And for all the BS about doctors getting back to their roots and caring for people, well, that’s pure rhetoric. When doctors can’t earn enough to pay their student loans AND turn a profit, you’ll see law school applications go through the roof. Mark my words.

*Note: I will dedicate the rest of the month of March to showing exactly why health care reform isn’t about health. Dare to read and learn, disputers.

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