The country is now immersed in a great debate over the health care delivery system with the main focus being whether that system should be paid for through private insurance or through public insurance.
This is the wrong focus and, regardless of the outcome, health care cost will not be contained.
There are three fundamental health care cost factors that are not receiving the nation’s full attention.
The most important of these is in the area of terminal illnesses. Terminal illness, put bluntly, means death and very few are willing to come to terms with that. The basic reason is that, while most everyone believes in a life after death, few are really confident of that belief. This is well expressed by the old joke that everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to go now. The result is a desperate attempt to hold on to life.
That desperation turns to medical technology which merely prolongs the agony without curing the disease. This is extremely costly resulting in the consumption of a large percentage of the nations health care dollars.
The second most important factor is the population’s lack of control over weight. Today, two-thirds of all Americans are either obese or overweight and it is well known that this alone leads to costly chronic disease.
The final factor is that the age demographic is sliding upwards due to the aging of the baby boomers.
The end result is a nation of aged, overweight and desperate people focused solely on themselves unwilling to think in terms of the costs that others must incur. Few politicians are willing to buck this sentiment so the problem will likely worsen until rising health care costs produce a fiscal crisis. At this point health care costs will threaten the provision of Social Security and the rest of the entitlements, the functioning of government itself and even the provision of military security.