How American HealthCare Killed My Father

by Dr. David Gruder

I just read a good article by David Goldhill in the September issue of Atlantic Monthly, called “How American Health Care Killed My Father” that discusses some key aspects of health reform. It’s more spin-free than most of the articles I have read on this topic. Here’s the link to the online version of the article: www.theatlantic.com/doc/200909/health-care

In this IntegrityWatch Blog post I will first offer my comments about Goldhill’s article and will use it as a jumping-off point for summarizing my perspective about health reform in the United States.

Goldhill’s article begins with a story about his father’s death that is strikingly similar to how my father died in a hospital intensive care unit in 1989 at age 69, three weeks after having been admitted with pneumonia. (The sad paradox is that a dangerously weakened immune system is one of the most common reasons people end up in hospitals… even though the bugs that commonly infest most wards in most hospitals make hospitals among the most dangerous places of all for people with seriously weakened immune systems.)

Like Goldhill, I too have been advocating that only coverage should be mandatory for all should be basic catastrophic coverage, because I strongly believe that this serves the common good (much like mandatory auto insurance). Beyond this, I believe that, at this time, a combination of HSAs and a wide range of optional supplemental health insurance coverage provided by for-profit (and/or nonprofit) companies is the wisest way to handle healthcare expenses above and beyond basic catastrophic coverage. (I would ideally prefer a different structure altogether, but until the vast majority of Americans take full responsibility for their health because they are finally adequately educated about illness prevention, the structure I would most prefer will remain unrealistic.)

I’m glad this Atlantic Monthly article talks about the importance of returning the power to individuals rather than what I call the “Government-Healthcare Complex” (this is my take-off on President Eisenhower’s term, the “Military-Industrial Complex” – which he originally named, by the way, the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex). What Goldhill’s article does not address (and this isn’t a criticism of the article – it’s plenty long enough as it is!) is the range of changes that must be made for the sake of sustainable health, such as: 1) Food processing reform; 2) Nutritional supplement reform; 3) Tilting the prevailing medical model toward an integrative approach to illness prevention rather than an allopathic-heavy approach to illness management; 4) Tort reform & the medical malpractice reform that must go hand-in-hand with tort reform; and 5) Consumer health education… just to mention a few key areas.

As an integrity specialist, I oppose any health reform bill whose cost increases the national deficit. As a health care professional I oppose this because in my opinion health care reform is more than capable of not only being revenue-neutral, but of actually saving money. As an organizational change expert, I believe that only when a critical mass of citizens demands revenue-neutral reform will Congress finally be forced to defy the special interests dedicated to preventing revenue-neutral health reform from becoming a reality: big pharma, for-profit health insurers, producers of health destroying food substitutes that pretend to be food, tort reform opponents, and those in the medical community who remain invested in ignoring how much money integrative health care & preventive health wellness programs save, because admitting this fact will eat into their profits.

However, until we make the commitment to revenue-neutral reform, huge sums of OUR money will continue to be wasted and mismanaged, regardless of the extent to which the government or for-profit insurance companies are responsible for health coverage. This is the key issue that keeps getting covered over by rhetoric and political polarization in the health reform debate: it doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about a government-supervised single payer tax-based plan, a free market multi-payer plan paid by businesses and consumers, or a combination of both. And until enough truly informed citizens insist that our fundamental approach to health and illness shift from focusing primarily on allopathy-obsessed illness management to focusing primarily on holistic-integrative approaches to illness prevention and health restoration, a revenue-neutral plan will remain out of reach.

For more specifics on my perspectives on various details of health reform, browse my posts and comments on my Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/DavidGruder).

For a summary of my main thoughts on health reform, read this prior IntegrityWatch Blog post:
www.thenewiq.com/integritywatch-blog/what-they-dont-want-you-know-about-health-insurance

Lastly, if you are truly committed to separating the spin from the facts on health reform (and all political issues) — and I passionately hope you are — here are two great nonpartisan fact-checking websites that I believe everyone should know about and consult regularly:
www.FactCheck.com
www.PolitiFact.org

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