Stay Healthy until you die
It is important to look at the broader healthcare picture, instead of endless wrangling about which healthcare system is the right one.
Try to ignore the current hysteria about healthcare, and the fact that the USA missed the road to single payer system, and is now out of step with the rest of the civilised world. This is not just a healthcare problem, it is a problem of surplus energy availability.
The USA allowed its energy wealth to be creamed off to create a super rich elite, in the name of free enterprise. That made a shambles of the entire social system, not just in healthcare.
The rest of the civilised world taxed fuels and used that taxation, in part, to deliver universal healthcare.
Where it all started
Here in the UK — -(where modern universal healthcare started in 1948), the thinking was that it would make everyone healthy, and the need for it would decrease over time. Everyone would be cured of their ailments and stay reasonably fit until they died, at around 70 or so. No concept of heart transplants, hip replacements, complex life support, or 1lb babies surviving. Or the cost of such care.
No one bothered to work out the exponential population growth that would result from the reproductive inclinations of fit and healthy people.
And so the slow inevitable drain on the system began.
Every healthcare system drains the nation that supports it, because demands upon it are infinite; here in UK it is becoming unsupportable, we just kid ourselves that everyone can have every treatment possible. We can’t of course, cost precludes it. That reality hits every nation, no matter how rich or poor, regardless of political inclination.
Every industrial nation has a healthcare system that must ultimately collapse under the weight of an ageing population and declining health that old age brings. Healthcare , like the pension system, can only be supported by young healthy contributors. (who are willing to pay in).
If they decline to contribute, they are destroying their own future.
When those paying in are exceeded by those drawing out, the system will collapse.
We think we have (political) choices, but they are only short term expedients. Collapse is certain whatever government policy is in place, irrespective of promises made.
Rationing healthcare is impossible, because that infers life or death decisions. Who will make those decisions?
We created our healthcare system using cheap surplus energy, We turned our hospitals into energy consuming factories using the same cheap surplus fuel that created the rest of our industrial world. Without that hospital/drug production factory system, your doctor would have no more to offer you than a tribal medicine man.
Now all the cheap surplus coal, oil and gas has gone, and we are trying to maintain the system using expensive energy, while trying to sustain a sophisticated equally energy-hungry society. Back in 1948, the world had about 2.5bn people, now there’s 7.5bn, all demanding a share of the energy pie and elevation to ‘western’ living standards. It is not possible to sustain one billion healthy people in the world while leaving 6.5 billion to the ravages of disease and social collapse.
The Energy Cliff
We commonly think of the ‘energy cliff’ as something affecting our means of transport and similar fuel-usage.
Healthcare sucks in fuel like there’s no tomorrow. Which there isn’t, at current rates of consumption. Politicians point to shortcomings in heathcare as if they require a political solution. The system is scrabbling for a toehold on that steepening cliff right now.
There’s only so much to go around, but we expect healthcare to continue to meet our every need while it takes a bigger and bigger slice of the economic pie.
At the same time we allow the ultra wealthy of the capitalist system to cream off a bigger share too, together with a armaments industry that insists on producing military hardware, the fundamental purpose of which is to protect the oil delivery system on which our infrastructure depends.
We want roads, schools, space exploration, an infinity of gadgetry, and a comfortable existence, all plucked from the magic money tree, except that there is no magic money tree, only a shrinking energy tree.
And we’ve picked all the low hanging fruit from that. We live in an energy based economy, not a money based economy. Changing governments will not change the reality of our energy crisis: the energy available to us is finite.
Healthcare is locked into what might look like a political struggle, but it is a fight for shrinking energy resources. If you still don’t get it, bear in mind that disease has only been in retreat for less than a century, temporarily subdues by man made products that have been exclusively produced with (surplus) fossil fuels in pharmaceutical factories.
Two centuries ago, such ‘factories’ did not exist. Now we think of them as normal. They are as much a derivative of oil, coal and gas as a car factory or a nuclear power plant. And just as vulnerable to energy depletion.
When those fossil fuels have gone, those diseases are going to return, having mutated into interesting new forms — -just to wind up the creationists. When we get to that point, voting for healthcare will be irrelevant. The ills of our forefathers will return, and we will not have their (limited) immunities. Our bodies have moved away from (limited) natural resistance, to factory-supported resistance. You can be sure resurgent bacteria and viruses will be fully aware of that.
We have reached the point where there is no more to be had anywhere. The collapsing health system is just one aspect of a collapsing social system.
It is not a pleasant prospect.
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