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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/14/19

What Can We Do to Fix America's Ghastly Health-Care Train Wreck? Part 4: Ideas

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The fundamental structural issues I outlined in Part 2 appear to be so ingrained in America that nothing short of political collapse and restructuring could possibly resolve them, short of some miracle. Such a collapse appears to be imminent, as I concluded in Part 3.

Given the circumstances there is no way I can see to avoid massive victimhood going forward--any ideas are welcome. To minimize this, less ambitious attempts to address the more dire problems case-by-case may yield some benefit, while preparing some makeshift system in the wings to replace the current one as it collapses.

To start off with, it would be helpful to disabuse anyone except the very rich of any notion that advances in medicine are going to save them. Your health, if you have it, is your most important asset. If you lose that, you'll lose every other asset you have before being hung out to dry. Since there are people who find themselves ill at no fault of their own, it behooves the rest of us to do what we can to avoid straining an already overburdened system, or the makeshift system that I envision being cobbled together when the current system implodes.

To this end, do your homework. Learn about nutrition and exercise and strive to be healthy. Be aware that nutrition itself is heavily politicized. Moreover, it is highly individual. A diet great for one person will make another ill. Bear that in mind and learn to read your body's responses to different dietary inputs. Keeping a food diary can help. I and many in my family have been very enamored of Dr. Joseph Mercola as a starting point. He has a good archive and commenters on his blog bring together many ideas. Yes, he sells stuff on his site. No, you don't have to buy it. His site is one of those under attack as the crackdown on dissenters proceeds.

Keep an open mind about controversies. There are two sides to the story, otherwise there would be no controversy. Bear in mind before you rush to judge a dissident that most media organizations will only allow you to hear their sponsors' side of it.

Subscribing to a few favored health-information sites is recommended; to get a head's up on what is happening politically, learn the latest advice and avoid losing touch as the situation heats up and search engines implement censorship.

Be aware that as has been noted here on OEN, that many health-care sites in the US are aimed at getting you to go to your doctor as often as you can at your own expense demanding the most expensive tests and treatment. The best sites will give you information you can implement at home or through inexpensive supplementation or dietary/exercise choices, sparing you expensive and useless treatments.

I note that in Japan, for example, 25 years ago if you paid more and went outside the universal health-coverage system, you could get very high quality care, but that has changed recently, and now you are likely to receive the same treatment you would get from a doctor within the system, but at wildly inflated prices. Going through personal referrals is best, if at all possible.

Here are ideas I've heard from others on what might be done to improve America's health-care system.

John Michael Greer on the Ecosophia website responded to my inquiry last May or June, "I have a three-part program to solve America's health-care crisis. The first is to remove exemptions from antitrust and other legislation that permit the medical industry to rig prices and duck the consequences of bad practice. The second is to pass laws authorizing registered nurses and physicians' assistants to hang out their shingles on their own, without an MD's supervision, to diagnose, treat and prescribe for the 99% of health conditions that you don't need an MD to deal with. The third is to abolish the laws that make it impossible for alternative health-care practitioners to practice openly in most US jurisdictions--it's past time that we treat Americans as adults and let them make their own health-care choices, even when those conflict with the vested interest of the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Do these three things and competition will crash the price of health care and force physicians to offer good patient care if they want to stay in business at all."

A commenter at his site added, "How about 'take away the profit motive'? Livelihood for those called to healing arts is one thing, profit-making another." Another said that despite the "invisibilities" that would drive up profits with universal coverage, "My biggest attraction to universal health care is that you pay for it during those times in life when you can but it is there for you no matter what your financial or health situation is. Another blog I used to read on claimed that there are violations of laws that are already in place, laws against taking advantage of people 'in extremis', like charging 30,000 dollars to an unconscious person for a helicopter ride to the hospital. Getting rid of insurance would certainly eliminate a middle man, but if we don't have universal health care, I'm sure some people would still want insurance. Oh, that's another thing, they've got these protectionist regulations so that people only have one or two insurance companies to choose from because they mostly don't let you shop across state lines, so this lack of competition keeps the prices up." She concluded, "Just get rid of the scams."

An intellectually inclined relative of mine from Europe said, "Kill health insurance. Medicare for all. Import medical equipment from other developed countries." He later added, "Big pharma is only a part of the problem. The only way to fix that part is to allow competition from outside (the inverse of what Trump does with import taxes). It is now forbidden by the FD[A], which on top of that doesn't do its job of protecting us against toxic medications. Other parts of the huge profits made by hospitals (big business) and private insurances, and the enormous administrative cost of the whole system due to the tens of thousands (!!!) of different coverage plans. Here is one of the failures of Trump: he didn't do anything to reduce the cost of healthcare, despite promising so during his campaign."

He is in agreement to some degree with my conservative relatives, one of whom said, "The RX companies run health care. It's a racket and designed to be sick care. What do I think needs to be done? Put Dr Hotze or Dr. Mercola in charge of the system."

This is why I think more should be done to bring the two warring sides together. Both agree there needs to be competition. Though popular among conservatives, Dr. Mercola once remarked that he does not consider himself to be conservative. That would be a mischaracterization.

To this end, Jonathan Cook on Consortium News said, "There is a reason why the corporate media quickly escalate simple stories... into such apparently elaborate and polarizing public discussions... to stop other kinds of debates... This is the primary purpose of the state-corporate media. To draw our energies away from real issues hiding in plain sight towards obvious ones of only specific or marginal significance, and then persuade us that we are in fact engaged with the most vital issues of the day."

Regarding the censorship of Dr. Mercola's and other alternative health-practitioners' blogs, one person urged, "Attack the Big Tech monopolies. Regulate Google and Facebook as public utilities. Subscribe to alternative health newsletters and share important articles with friends and family Boycott Google, uninstall Google Chrome and use Brave or Opera browser, sign the 'Don't be evil' petition crated by Citizens Against Monopoly."

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The author has lived 38 years in Japan. She has also spent time in Siberia, where she led ecotours for Friends of the Earth Japan. She is fluent in Japanese and Russian, and also speaks Indonesian, Thai and Spanish. She loves nature and is an (more...)

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