[Editor's Note: while I am away, today's blog post is by guest author William Seebeck. I've known Bill for decades, going back to our time working together at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton, Ohio during the 1980's. Bill has a wealth of experience in online systems, banking, publishing, and public relations. Lately, Bill has had a lot of direct, personal experience with the health care industry.]
Part I – How To Think About It & The Economics and The Politics of It
By Bill Seebeck
My son Matt taught me a few things in an essay he wrote this week, when he asked the question, “Why do so many people know so very little about subjects that are so important to them?” Now he asked that question not about health care but about the defense of the nation.
In the essay, he said that in his quest to answer that question, he thought, “What kind of preconceived notions did people have and where did they come from? What is the reason for their knowing a half-truth or a true falsehood and was it a result of their
“After long periods of study and introspection, I deduced that there are two types of
knowledge people acquire often without acknowledging the disparity between the two. First, ‘perceived knowledge’ is a veritable brain dump, something learned or heard of, studied for a test but never examined or understood.”
“The second type, ‘actual learned knowledge’ is the opposite, instructed or read in a detailed manner and expressed in such a way that it is appreciated,” he opined. “The beauty of actual learned knowledge is that it incorporates a whole spectrum of topics.
For example, history inherently requires economics, politics, and sociology to be more fully explained. It is a way to wisdom,” he wrote.
Thanks Matt for helping to focus on and shape how we think about the subjects that are so important to us. Thank you also for serving all of us this day in the uniform of our country.
So, as we think about health care, let us also think about the fact that we also need to consider economics, politics, history, sociology, medicine, science, technology and how we value life, our lives and others.
Health care is one of the most expensive items in our personal budgets, state budgets and in the budget of the United States. The cost to those budgets continues to rise. We (the citizens, our state governments and federal government) cannot afford the basic cost of health care, nor its continuing increases.
Therefore, we must change the system.
There are lots of politics wrapped up in health care. Why? In part because there is so much MONEY wrapped up in health care.
Corporations run health care. They make the drugs we take, operate the pharmacies that dispense the drugs, make the machines (CT-Scan, X-Rays, etc.) used for performing tests, blood testing services, they own the insurance companies and the hospitals that
determine how much everything costs and who is going to pay for what.
Then we have the doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., and the colleges and universities that train them. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars to train these people who not only choose this profession but they are the people to whom we entrust our lives. They have a need to protect the quality of their educations, but they also need to pay off the cost of their educations while practicing medicine, paying the high cost of insurance required to practice medicine and living life with some quality.
The next group is ourselves. We always want something better. We also don’t want to pay a high cost for it.
We have our seniors, who since the 1960’s have had a medical system of their own that in tandem with Social Security provides at the very least a basic style of life that recognizes their dignity and life’s effort as working people, who because of age and the challenges of health that come with aging generally cannot afford a system
Finally, we have our elected officials. They are after all politicians. They are influenced by each of the groups noted above and many more. The lobbyists that represent such groups contribute millions to politicians at election time. Such influence can cause an elected official to move from the right thing to do, to the thing to do in order to get elected the next time they run for public office.
A sub-group of the elected officials are governors, state governments and their legislative bodies. Most states require an annual BALANCED budget and the cost of health care to a state can be punishing, especially if the federal government doesn’t help fund what the state is required by law to provide its citizens. Then, if the state has to cut costs to balance their budget, then local governments (your town) will also
have less money from the state and generally will have to make cuts as well.
It is the role of the President of course to lead the country as its chief executive officer. He or she must offer programs to Congress that balance the cost of health care in relation to other needs of the nation with in this case, the health care needs of its
The President knows that the health care system has to change because as we noted in the economic section, it costs too much for everyone. In the economic mess we are in, it absolutely must be addressed. Not later, but now because it represents such a large and growing percentage of the federal budget, state governments and our own budgets
What we change to as the NEW HEALTH CARE SYSTEM is a battle between all of the groups noted above, the debate we are experiencing today, with all sorts of half-truths and falsehoods flying about, all because it is first ABOUT MONEY and only a distant second about our health.
As a result, at the end of the day, it does not mean that we will have a new system that will truly serve our health care needs in the future nor be as inexpensive as it could possibly be. What we will have will be what the lobbyists and elected officials bang together. Unfortunately, not a happy thought.
Meanwhile, let me know what you think.