WHY DOUBLE-DIGIT INFLATION
OF HEALTH CARE COSTS?
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© March 2014, The Center For Development
Many people are rightly appalled at the skyrocketing cost of health care in America. Why is the cost rising much faster than inflation, and what can be done about it?
CAUSES OF HIGH COSTS
According to a recent report in the Arizona Republic Newspaper, experts say costs are rising in the United States because:
Š Efforts to force people to use doctors less frequently have failed.
Š New high-tech treatments and drugs are expensive and used more frequently.
Š Many HMO's and other low-cost providers have not met expectations.
Š The diseases of our aging population such as cancer and heart disease are expensive to treat.
These statements certainly contain some truth. But why have efforts to force people to see doctors less frequently failed? Deeper issues lie at the root of skyrocketing health care costs.
The most important factor that is not on the list above is that drug medicine is not getting people well. It mainly suppresses symptoms, which is not the same as healing. As a result, more serious problems arise that are even more costly. Let us explore some myths or premises about health care that skew the debate.
MYTHS THAT SKEW THE DEBATE
Myth 1. 'Health care' means goods and services, and more is better. In fact, real health care is much, much more than professional services, operations and procedures. A valid discussion of health care must begin, for example, with factors such as one's lifestyle, moral values, and sense of self-responsibility. The body is one’s most intimate property. Like your car or your house, do you take care of it? It is a material object and subject to flaws and decay if not cared for. Why do our experts ignore all this when they discuss the future of health care?
The reason is quite simple. They cannot control it, for one, and secondly it is not up to them. Now, as leaders they could set an example for the people and they could offer incentives for the people to stay well. This, in fact, was one aim of the HMOs, and much earlier it was the aim of the community health organizations, which were HMOs basically, except that these were owned by the people who used them. The AMA outlawed them because they paid doctors less money.
However, we rarely hear about lifestyle and diet from the pundits and experts. They are too busy calculating the services and goods and cannot see the obvious.
In fact, lifestyle, diet, attitudes and such highly personal factors impact health as much as the goods and services provided by the medical industry. The effects of any policy on self-care, responsibility and control over one's life must be factored into the equation, or policy solutions will continue to backfire. Healing in fact requires:
1) Detoxifying The Bodies. Everyone is born with some mutated DNA, nutritional deficiencies, toxic metals, thousands of toxic chemicals in their tissues today. As life progresses, each of us is exposed to even more toxic material.
It is critical to detoxify the bodies through natural means. These are not often recommended by traditional medical authorities because they do not have this kind of education, and they will not have this education because the training is generally for disease, not health and healing.
Therefore, it is up to the individual to seek out and find the alternative they need. This is critical, as the population will not get well with medical methods. They will get symptomatic relief only, for the most part. This is the unvarnished truth about the medical care system, and would only be worse if a “universal health care system” were imposed on the American people, as it is in Canada, Europe and other socialist nations.
Even if the national medical system allowed private medical care to exist side by side with the government system, taxes would rise a lot to pay for the government system, depriving the people of funds they should be using for natural healing methods. Thus, a one-size-fits-all health care system is always a bad idea from the point of view of true healing. Real healing is always a personal journey that cannot be “delivered” by some central authority, doled out like candy, as it is often pictured by those who propose it.
Many wonderful methods of detoxification exist and are readily available at low cost. Healing need not be costly. One of the finest is the near infrared sauna as described in other articles I have written and those of other authors as well.
Replenishing vital nutrients. Depleted soil, use of hybrid
crops, chemical agriculture, poor quality and refined food diets, poor eating
habits and stressful lifestyles contribute to widespread nutrient deficiencies
in the population. Most children
are born with nutritional imbalances due to imbalances in the parents. Nutrient deficiencies are subtle at
times, and result in a multitude of health conditions.
Replenishing minerals takes several years, as the body has buffering systems to prevent excessive absorption of any nutrient. Tissue mineral analysis when done by a laboratory that does not wash the hair and interpreted properly, can help slowly replace nutrients without upsetting body chemistry. Lifestyle changes are often essential to reduce stress and improve food choices, shopping and cooking practices and eating habits.
This is another area in which the government authorities have not been helpful, but in fact have brainwashed most people into believing that junk food and “Recommended Daily Allowances” of nutrients are sufficient and provide good nutrition. This is a flat out lie. These foods and recommended dosages of nutrients don’t even come close to providing optimal nutrition. This has been known for years, in fact. If the Democrats and their allies were to impose a national health care system on America that provided no alternatives, the people would be far worse off. It would simply entrench what we have now – a corrupt FDA and other corrupt government bodies.
Today people can go to their health food store and find their supplements, cheaply and easily. Many current health care proposals want to limit that access and deny the people their alternatives. This is another reason not to allow any greater government intervention in any way in the health care system of the United States.
Eliminating biological toxins including infectious organisms and their endotoxins. In my experience, most people have half
a dozen or more chronic infections.
Over half have overgrowth of intestinal candida
albicans and other enteric pathogens. These produce endotoxins
and contribute to many common symptoms such as post-nasal drip, chronic aches
and pains, bloating, fatigue and hundreds of others.
In most cases, suppressive therapy (drugs such as antibiotics) will not work to clear these infections. They are very chronic, often viral and the toxicity of the drugs is worse than the infection. Replenishing nutrients and eliminating toxic substances from the body with nutritional balancing and sauna therapy improves infection-fighting ability and removes poor quality tissue on which the organisms feed.
Mental and Emotional healing. False ideas such as cynicism, hatred,
arrogance, guilt and unfounded fears are every bit as toxic as physical
poisons. Toxic emotions including
anger, resentment and envy also cause much disease. These activate the sympathetic nervous system and deplete
Many therapies including meditation, nutritional correction, color therapy, body work and others can help release toxic ideas and emotions. Once again, government health authorities rarely propose the natural methods to heal the mind and emotions. If they understood them, the nation would be far healthier. Instead, five million children are given ADHD drugs and drug and alcohol addiction among adults is rampant as well. This is the direct result of ignoring natural methods of mental and emotional healing by the leading health authorities.
Mental development. We are not here just to eat, work,
sleep and raise families. Much
illness is caused by lack of awareness of the more subtle spiritual reasons for
our existence. Instead, many
people wear themselves out worshipping false gods of fame and fortune. The primary adult relationship is with
the source of Creation. If this is
placed secondary to material concerns, illness often develops.
Correction involves a reordering of priorities, letting go of selfishness, greed, anger and violence toward self and others. Placing first things first with appropriate lifestyle and attitudinal changes will go a long way toward healing any conditions or disease in most cases. Once again, how often do we hear this from our health departments. I have rarely ever heard it addressed. It is another reason the people need total control of their health care, not some central system of “national health care”.
Myth 2. Drug medicine and surgery are the preferred methods of professional health care. Often we take for granted that health care means drugs and surgery. However, this assumption overlooks a wide variety of 'alternative' or 'complementary' methods of professional health care ranging from nutrition to acupuncture. The latter exist outside the medical orthodoxy. They are usually not reimbursable by insurance and many methods are not even on the radar, as they say. They are people who are gifted who offer their services privately. Unless the God-given talents of these people are permitted and encouraged, the American people are deprived of their gifts. This is another reason why any “national health system” or “universal care” system is doomed to fail, for it cannot account for the private gifts of ordinary people that can help heal their fellow human beings.
The monopoly method today - drug medicine - is also not really prevention oriented. It often ignores fundamentals such as diet. Costs rise because prevention is the only sensible approach to health care. Also, drug medicine often uses risky medications and procedures as a first resort when less dangerous methods could be used instead. As a result, iatrogenesis or physician-caused disease accounts for up to 20% of hospital admissions. It is a major factor in the escalating cost of health care. We must question the entire philosophy of drug medicine.
Myth 3. America has a private or free market health care system. This is probably the most important myth to dispel. About 60 to 65% of American medicine today is already “nationalized”. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, the armed forces medical care, the Veterans Administration, the Indian Health Care System (another total disaster for those unfortunate people), and a myriad of government programs for women, children, infants and others. These programs, by the way, focus more on nutrition and actually do some good.
very clear that a “national” or “universal” program means it is paid for out of
taxes, which are extracted by force from the people. National systems funded from taxes are always about
extracting the money by force.
Voluntary systems rely on church and other charities and voluntary
spending of money that is decided by the individual. This is the only essential difference between private and
In fact, America has not had a free market health care system for 100 years. It was dismantled early in the 20th century by the AMA when they imposed licensing laws to deliberately get rid of the competition to drug medicine. Before 1900, many systems of health care co-existed in America. These included nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, and hydrotherapy. Each had their own schools. Certain 'eclectic' schools taught many methods.
Around 1910, however, Congress accepted the Flexner Report on Medical Education. The report, sponsored by the American Medical Association, declared drug medicine to be superior. Laws were soon enacted to regulate medical education that in effect eradicated all but the drug medical schools. Taxpayer dollars began to flow to the allopathic schools, making it even more difficult for the competition to survive.
The flow of confiscated taxpayer dollars for new drug cures continues today. This includes the 22 billion dollar 'war on cancer', which even the New England Journal of Medicine acknowledges has been a failure. Today the allopathic monopoly still exists but has been replaced in part by a web of control from insurance companies to government bureaucracies who make the Medicare and Medicaid rules, for example. Government control has brought much HIGHER costs, not cost reduction. A national health care system would further entrench this system by prohibiting people from “opting-out” of the high taxes the system would require and thus they would be forced to support an inferior system. Costs might go down. However, the reason is that services would be cut back. This is exactly what occurs in Canada and Europe. Health care means the right to wait in line in these nations.
Much of medical research is also socialized or government controlled. For example, the National Institutes of Health, in 2003, consisted of 27 individual institutes with 18,000 employees and a combined budget of 28 billion dollars! Has it made us more healthy? Most would agree that we are sicker today – largely due to nutrition and lifestyle problems that require no tax dollars to understand or research.
Myth 4. Everyone has a 'right' to health care. Our Constitution contains two kinds of rights, called positive and negative rights. Negative rights are freedom from interference, while positive rights guarantee a good or service.
The founders of our nation recognized certain 'inalienable rights' such as freedom of speech and freedom of worship. These rights do not force another to provide a service. They do not cost the taxpayers any money and they do not require forcing anyone to provide any service.
One can have a negative right to health care, which is similar to the above. It would state that no one can interfere with your right to seek the care of your choice. This would be a great improvement, as today licensing laws force everyone to visit only licensed doctors. Anyone caught without a license can go to jail.
The so-called right to health care proposed by some political candidates and others is very different. It is a positive right. It requires forcing others to provide goods and services free of charge. This is clearly a violation of the rights of others. One might as well say that everyone has a right to television sets and an automobile. This leads to extremely high health care costs which we have today because:
a. The idea that someone owes you health care reduces self-responsibility for health.
b. The idea that others have a 'right' to your labor and time reduces the citizen's sense of control over their life. This has a sickening effect on the population.
c. This right to care creates an unlimited demand for services, which drives up prices.
d. To keep costs under control, government begins to ration care. The most politically influential groups make sure their therapy is reimbursed, regardless of safety or effectiveness. Health care becomes highly politicized and costs rise because the most effective and least costly treatments are often not offered. This is the case with Medicare and Medicaid. For example, they pay thousands of dollars for bypass surgery, but will not reimburse non-invasive natural therapies.
c. The mysterious 'right to health care' is used to justify spending billions of tax dollars on various government programs and to force citizens to pay for benefits they may not even want or need.
No one questions the desirability of health care for everyone. However, forcing some people to provide any service tramples on basic individual liberties. There are better ways to do it.
Myth 5. Mandated benefits are the mark of an advanced civilization. Most health care proposals call for 'mandated benefits'. These are health benefits forced upon everyone by law. Either employers will be forced to provide insurance, or the taxpayers will be forced to pay directly for health care. Mandated benefits raise costs because:
a. Forcing businesses or individuals to have benefits is coercive. Mandated benefits worsen health because they diminish the individual's control over his life. Ivan Illich in Medical Nemesis calls this problem 'social iatrogenesis'. Coercion has a counter-productive or sickening effect on the population. This is precisely the situation we see today, in which more 'benevolent' welfare programs just seem to lead to more crime and worsening health statistics.
b. Mandated benefits cause the overuse of services because the services are perceived as 'free of charge'. When an individual is relieved of bearing the cost of services, he loses an appreciation of the cost of those services. This leads to the overuse of services which raises costs. This has occurred with Medicare and with all cases of mandated benefits. The incentives are backwards. Those who stay out of the doctor's office are not rewarded, but penalized. Those who take better care of themselves and therefore have less need for doctors pay as much as those who use and abuse the system.
c. Mandated benefits reduce self-responsibility for health. This leads to more sickness and therefore greater costs.
d. Mandated benefits provided by the government require a complex bureaucracy to administer them. Not only is extra money required to fund the bureaucracy, but fraud is common.
e. Health care, like any other industry, is subject to the law of supply and demand. The excessive use of health services is expensive in itself. However, costs also soar because the lavish use of services keeps the demand high. In essence, easy access creates an artificial demand for health services that further drives up prices.
Myth 6. Rationing health care by the marketplace (price) is cruel and cold-hearted, whereas rationing of health care by bureaucratic rules is benign and fair. In every economy, goods and services are rationed by some method. Socialized health care systems ration services just as much as private systems. It is an economic necessity, especially when the demand for services is high. Free market pricing, provided it is not hampered by monopolistic regulations, is actually far more humane than bureaucratic rationing because the free market permits private fee negotiations between doctor and patient, private fund-raising, charity and church participation, and other arrangements that avoid costly government involvement.
Bureaucratic rules tend to be rigid, and are influenced by special interest groups who care little about the public. If one is denied services in a bureaucratic system one's options are to bribe public officials, form a pressure group, or use 'influence' to bend the rules.
Most importantly, however, free market rationing of services allocates services where and when they are needed. Command economies such as the former Soviet Union allocate resources poorly. This is exactly the situation in American health care today. University medical centers receive billions in government grants and fellowships for new high-tech wizardry, while rural communities have no care whatsoever. The solution is not to confiscate more tax money for the poor. The solution is to dismantle the 'reverse welfare' system that is in place. It is a command structure designed to produce 'medical progress' that is as out of touch with reality as was the former Soviet command economy.
Myth 7. Government is the solution, and government is responsible for solving the problem. In fact, each person is primarily responsible for his or her own health. The government was established to protect individual and property rights. This function enhances the people's safety and control over their lives, and is thus helpful for health. On the other hand, governmental tinkering in the medical business through monopolistic licencing laws, subsidies for drug research, and forced benefits such as Medicare have contributed to spiraling health care costs. Special interests dominate the decision-making process, and individual rights and freedom are trampled.
Governmental 'solutions' also drive private charities out of business. Private charities operate more efficiently, create less dependence, and have more safeguards to control costs and prevent fraud. Private charities answer directly to their donors, unlike government programs. A private charity that is exposed as corrupt loses its funding and goes out of business.
AN ALTERNATIVE HEALTH POLICY
Policy changes that would dramatically reduce costs and improve health care include:
1. Eliminate the business tax deduction for health insurance. Instead give individuals a tax credit for health insurance. Giving the tax break to businesses reduces the worker's choices of health plans. It also reduces the worker's ability to bargain for benefits. Most importantly, the worker does not know the exact cost of his health care. This leads to less self-responsibility and overuse of services because benefits are perceived as 'free'. Giving a tax break to individuals would enhance choices and enable each person to appreciate the cost of insurance. These measures lead to greater personal responsibility and less abuse of health services.
2. Return the health care industry to a free market. In reality, we have not had a free market in health care for some 90 years. A free market means the government does not favor one kind of medicine or research. It also means the government does not subsidize medical care for the aged or poor. This is left up to private foundations and groups.
Some experts claim the free market fails to provide low-cost health care for everyone. This cannot be true because there is no free market in health care. Indeed, when there was a free market for the first 120 years of the nation’s history, health care was inexpensive and therefore more widely accessible. The free market remains the best mechanism ever devised to allocate scarce resources and to encourage innovation, effectiveness and efficiency in the use of resources.
A free market health care system would operate more like car care. There are many levels of care and many choices. There are few barriers to offering services, and all fees are negotiated directly between buyer and seller so that costs are accurately determined. Most people are taken care of well, and prices are kept low. The government keeps hands off except to prosecute fraud and misrepresentation.
I believe the billions spent on the war on cancer and other such projects have not produced a good return. Laws that block competition and choice, including occupational licensing laws, can be replaced by private certification and title licensure. The public will still be protected from harm by the laws against fraud and misrepresentation, and the right to sue for damages. However, alternative methods of health care would be given a chance to compete fairly in the health care marketplace.
3. Move away from the idea of a right' to health care. Health is the most personal matter imaginable. No one owes another health care. It cannot be bought like a pair of pants. Health care consists most importantly of daily and even moment-to-moment personal decisions, like the food one eats and when one goes to bed. These decisions are either health-producing or health-destroying.
There is no way to shift responsibility for all these decisions onto a government agency. There is also no sense to the idea that someone else owes one health care, when in fact it is a matter of personal responsibility. The idea of a right to health care is actually counterproductive as it discourages one from taking full responsibility for health-related personal decisions.
PAYING FOR YOUR HEALTH CARE
Insurance and socialized medicine in America (Medicare and Medicaid) have dramatically increased medical costs. Both tend to raise prices a lot because the consumer is less aware of cost and does not bear the entire cost of his care. To regulate costs, people know their costs and be forced to make the sometimes difficult decisions about how to spend their money. This is always the truth, regardless of the services or products in question.
Health insurance is really pre-paid medical care, set up and regulated in large measure by the same cartel. There is no room in this article to explain this in detail. However, prepaid care is very costly, which again is good for cartel profits. Here are some tips about paying for health care:
Š The primary expenditure should be on your lifestyle and diet to make them as health-producing as possible. This must be number one priority or you are asking for trouble.
Š Insurance may not be a good idea if you are not well off. Far better to spend the extra $2-300/ month or more on healthy food, exercise, relaxation and other life-enhancing activities and products. The state or federal government will assist you if you fall ill or have a serious accident. We do not like the welfare state, but in this case use it.
Š If you are considering taking a job “for the benefits” think carefully. Is this a healthful, challenging job? If it is, so much the better. If not, you may be better off with a different job that may even pay better. You can buy your own health insurance in most instances.
Š In some cases the best option is a discount card such as that offered by Care Entrée. The card offers “insurance company rates”, which are often over 50% less than the retail prices of doctor and hospital and dental services. It takes effect within 24 hours, so there is no waiting period and no questions asked about pre-existing conditions.
Š Another option if you need care is to pay cash, even if you have insurance! At times the discount for cash is fantastic and you are better off going this route.
Š If you have more funds to spare, then insurance is an excellent idea. Be sure to shop around, as prices vary greatly and are changing every week. Always talk with your insurer before getting a procedure or operation to get approval and avoid nasty surprises. Always write down the names of those you speak with and the date and time of the conversation.
Š Keep track of expenses to avoid other nasty surprises such as bills that should have been paid by insurance and were not.
Š Insurance is the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy. This is both good and bad. Policies and government regulations change so often that insurance policies are quite difficult to figure out without the help of a competent insurance agent.
ADDENDUM – 2014
Obamacare, in one year, has already raised the insurance premiums for many people, and promises less service for more money in the future. It is a horrible piece of legislation that I hope will not be allowed to stand. For more on this legislation, please read The Affordable Care Act of 2010.