Health care for the elderly is second only to Social Security in its financial burden it is about to put on the American economy in the coming decades. The baby-boomer generation, coupled with the ever rising health care costs, will be retiring and losing employer sponsored health care soon. As the largest generation by population starts using federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare, the burden will be in the Trillions not Billions. So these two issues cannot be left untouched, nor can they be eliminated. They need to be reasonably confronted with compassion.
Medicare is under tremendous cost pressures. In my opinion, we need to start at the very beginning. What players are involved and how can they help? Doctors get a set fee, but what restrictions are they under? What tests are given as a way of speeding patients away or protecting the doctors’ judgment as opposed to what is needed? What drugs are used and are they the cheapest best choice? Do patients go to the Emergency room or are they educated on using their primary care physician?
The concern I have for Medicare overall is an odd one based on the time we live in. When the Affordable Health Care Act goes into full effect it will push an additional 20 million into coverage, yet the number of doctors in the US has not gone up to account for it. Have you been to the doctor lately? I had an appointment and when I showed up 10 minutes early, did my paperwork- I still had to wait 1 hr to be seen. Does that sound like a doctor who is underutilized and lush with free time? Do you see the amount of doctors who accept Medicare/Medicaid going up or down once you push 20 million add’l patients into the global waiting room?
We need changes. We need compassion. We need foresight.