Sometimes, when one projects current trends into the future, very scary scenarios emerge. A study that was reported last Thursday would make all of the tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes that have been experienced in recent years pale by comparison. The prognostication, made by respectable medical doctors, would mean the end of our society.
The cost of health care in the United States has long been of interest to me, but during the past week the topic has taken on new dimensions for a couple of reasons. First, on Monday, I underwent surgery for a complete replacement of my right shoulder. I’m not sure if the procedure could be called “elective” because I’ve been in some degree of pain for the past three years, but I was not in imminent danger of losing my arm or my life.
Sometimes the pain has been dull and quite bearable; occasionally it could become severe, requiring me to take a “pain pill,” a ritual which I try to avoid. However, X-rays, CT scans, and an MRI (magnetic resonance image) clearly showed that the head (top) of the humerus (upper-arm bone) had become deformed and arthritic. At this point, I don’t know how much the pre-op visitations, hospitalization, surgery, anesthesia, post-op examinations, and rehabilitation will cost. And, that brings me to the second point.
Last week, Business Insider reported a study by Richard A. Young and Jennifer E. DeVoe, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, that purports that health care costs will exceed average household income by 2030. If this projection is correct, the average American will have to make choices between health care and housing, health care and clothing, health care and food. As a practical matter, the typical person’s relationship to the healthcare institutions of our society will simply dissolve...