Saturday, April 14, 2007
There is an interesting and frequently amusing debate underway at The TPM Cafe discussing Jonathan Cohn's new book Sick:The Untold Story Of America's Health Care Crisis and The People Who Pay The Price.
The discussion has devolved into what you might encounter if you happened to be a physicist who stumbled into a watering hole in Berkeley, CA or Cambridge, MA and overheard a large group of undergraduates discussing the next breakthrough in Theoretical Physics despite no obvious familiarity among most particpants with Calculus or Quantum Mechanics. But, there is the passion of youth and idealism, and fueled by relatively cheap pitchers of beer and the occasional jager-bomb the theories just flow. You notice an older participant guiding the discussion and recall your own undergraduate days when liberal arts professors like Jengs in Animal House provided the cool-aid and had no issues spewing forth theory on subjects outside their field like political reality. That is what the whole discussion reminds me of at TPM except Donald Sutherland has been cloned .
The comments are fascinating. I keep waiting for Mr Hand to show up and ask, "What's wrong with you people? Are you on Dope?" Single payer seems to be the mantra at TPM but no one is discussing the fact that 67% of the US population is either obese or overweight and preventable disease today accounts for 65-70% of our Health Care spend. So how does single-payer change behavior? Or does that come later in phase 2? Who is going to mention the elephant in the room?
Not a single person has mentioned the abject failure of a culture and an educational system which produces citizens who do not seem to comprehend the relationship between their behavior and their health much less the importance of a good education to securing employment with great benefits including Health care and disability income in the event sickness strikes. There are a lot of victims stepping out as policymakers. But I digress and find myself about to quote a great rock n roll song thats not very PC.
I guess I find the discussion somewhat comical only because my clients deal in reality, but I certainly recognize the subject of financial ruin due to sickness is very serious. Reality requires employers to do what they can right now to achieve results. The emphasis is on tactical programs like engaging members to become active participants in their own health and well being. This involves behavioral changes in diet, exercise,pharmacy compliance and disease management among others. Employers have no choice but to act or be acted upon.