Dying for Healthcare

Since I know a little about hell, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate.

Healthcare debate is hotter than the flames of hell. Yet no one seem to delve into the reasons for the high cost of health insurance. Blame the doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, depending on the skew you want to take on the issue, someone is gouging the American public. Perhaps there is some of that.  But what about the foundation of the problem that no one, especially politicians, dares to ponder too long.

The real problem: medical advancements and longer life spans. At the turn of the 20th century, the average life span was 45 years. At the turn of the 21st century, the average life span was 78 years. Far fewer women die in childbirth, far more babies survive infancy than ever before. In Colonial New England, 40% of children died before reaching adulthood.

Today, the frailest of people of all ages survive to an age never possible before. The premature infant weighing less than one pound survives. Patients in comas live on for years. Ventilators keep us living well beyond the time a damaged body can hope to live. Medical care is intense and heroic. The expertise of medical professionals, the increase in life-saving medical gadgets, and miracle medications contribute to a longer, healthier life. All this comes with an enormous price tag.

The question should be: just how humane are we willing to be? Healthcare consumes a greater and greater portion of everyone’s budget. The price of healthcare decreases everyone’s standard of living.

The baby boomers are next to clog up the healthcare system. According to Dr. Ronald Klatz, founder and President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, one-half of baby boomers will live to see their 100th birthday. So many aging bodies, living longer than ever, tapping into the high-cost of caring for their health.

Waves of resentment run through many of today’s youth about the older generations draining their future prosperity. Are we getting closer to a world depicted in Soylent Green? Is the survival of the weakest inhumane to the vital? Should Sarah Palin revisit those Death Panels? If the cost of healthcare shakes down the economy ever further, who decides the quality of a life worth living?

Maintaining the status quo means a lower standard of living. Forget most luxuries and deflate the economy even more. Living a simpler life may not be so bad: smaller homes, smaller cars, less technology to play with, minimal travel. Or will a fight for the survival of the fittest be the next revolution?

Remember my motivation; the devil made me do it.

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