'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY NEEDS MAJOR REFORM
The health care industry is approximately one-fifth of the entire U.S. economy. If current trends continue, in a short time the health care industry will be exactly 100-percent of the entire U.S. economy, with half the population working in the health care business and the other half of the population receiving medical treatment.
This will not be good since other important occupations that make up the economy—such as auto mechanic and bartender—will either be left unfilled or performed by medical professionals in their spare time. (“Paging Doctor Johnson: Room 425 needs another round of vodka martinis. Shaken, not stirred.”)
Obviously this trend cannot continue—and not just because most doctors have no idea how to make a good martini. Anyone who has received health care services in recent years knows the costs are astronomical. And anyone who has NOT received health care services in recent years knows that health insurance premiums also are astronomical.
So if our society is going to have any hope of curtailing the skyrocketing cost of health care, there must be a fundamental shift in the way services are provided. We have two choices: either cut back health care services, which will cause our average life expectancy to drop from the present upper 70s down to, say, the mid-40s; or make needed health care services more affordable. Despite the fact that the former of these two options will solve the Social Security insolvency problem, I prefer the latter option, especially since I’m already past my mid-40s.
(There is a third option, of course: Americans could reduce the need for medical care by adopting healthier lifestyles, including nutritious diets and regular exercise. But as long as every strip mall in the nation contains at least one “Bucket O’ Lard” family buffet restaurant, and as long as most Americans watch an average of 27 hours of TV per day, this is about as likely to happen as Paris Hilton earning a PhD in Astrophysics.)
By the way, don’t for a moment believe the hype that turning the entire health care industry over to government control will solve the problem. If government-run, socialized medicine is so wonderful, then why do so many Canadians and Brits travel to the U.S. to receive medical treatment?
Just imagine this scenario: your emergency appendectomy will be performed with the same level of dedication, skill, and urgency that you are accustomed to receiving while visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is, unless you arrive at the Emergency Room during coffee break. Or unless the computers are down. Or unless it’s Columbus Day, or some other state holiday, which means the E.R. is closed until 8:30 tomorrow morning. Or unless the government employee on duty doesn’t feel like taking care of you right now because his shift will be over in 45 minutes, and the union regulations clearly state that he is not required to begin a new case so close to quitting time. Or…you get the point.
The only feasible solution is to make needed medical services more affordable. I predict advances in technology soon will allow many expensive procedures—currently performed in high-priced hospitals by high-priced medical professionals—to be done at home with “do-it-yourself” kits.
Drawing on all of my medical knowledge and training (which is to say, none), next week I will present a list of expensive medical procedures that in the near future will be performed at a fraction of the cost at home. I am certain the entire medical industry will be transformed by these fascinating new techniques (which is to say, I haven’t thought them up yet).
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