Thanksgiving Thoughts On The US Healthcare Industry

Now that Obamacare will have 4 years to sink its tentacles into our healthcare system, the 1st class medical care we enjoy in the US is a thing of the past.  It is apparent to anyone who read the bill that once Obamacare is fully implemented, the citizens of the US will experience longer wait times and a lower quality of care.

Medical device companies started cutting back a long time ago, the costs of Obamacare are already being revised up and the pending Medical Device Tax is forcing companies to scale back on R&D and lay people off.  Not to mention the fact that we already have evidence of the failures of socialized medicine in other countries – England’s healthcare system is in the red and Canada’s healthcare system has corruption

It’s all very sad but since this is Thanksgiving, I decided to share a personal story that shows how thankful I have been (note the past tense) of the US healthcare system and how, without it, I might not be able to walk today.

My Story

On the evening of 06-FEB-2006 I was playing in an adult recreational basketball league game and as I was chasing down an opponent and jumped to block his layup, I heard a pop and it felt like my right knee had been hit with a baseball bat.  Upon falling to the court, I noticed that my tibia (shin bone) was dislocated and my patella (knee cap) was resting high in the quadriceps area.

I was rushed to the emergency room and after getting a phone consult from an orthopedic surgeon, it was determined that I had ruptured my patella tendon (the tendon than connects the patella to the tibia) and that I needed surgery.  On 08-FEB-2006 I went in for an MRI and I was scheduled for a patella tendon repair on 10-FEB-2006.  A few days after surgery, I was fitted with a sophisticated brace and started 6 months of physical therapy.

For those who are interested, the details of this surgery can be found here (with a more medically detailed link here) and a picture of my knee during the surgery is shown below (the red arrows showed the rupture in the patella tendon).

I am happy to report that the surgery and subsequent physical therapy allowed me to continue an active lifestyle that I was accustom to before the injury.  I continue to run short distances (but no more marathons for me) and I replaced my weekly long run with a long bike ride which sometimes gets up to 40 miles.  The only time I remember that I have a reconstructed patella tendon is when I bump my knee on a hard surface and the anchors/sutures cause some temporary pain.

But for the most part, my active lifestyle was not impacted from this debilitating injury and it is a testament to modern medicine that I was able to recover from it.  If I had been born 50 years earlier and had a similar injury when I was in my late 30’s, I would’ve, at best, been crippled for life or worst case, developed an infection that would’ve forced amputation or caused death.  Another sobering thought – If my birth in 1969 would’ve occurred in a 3rd world country and not the US, the same life limiting/threatening outcomes would’ve befallen me.

So on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 I give thanks that I lived in a country that valued the Free Market principles which brought about the innovation in the health care industry to ‘invent’ this reconstructive surgery and the competition that allowed me to get the highest quality service in the fastest time.

Will unfortunate souls in a few years be able to obtain the timely, high quality medical service I obtained in 2006?  Remember the timeline I experienced in 2006 with this horrific injury – Within a week of the injury I had visited an emergency room, obtained an MRI, had the surgery and started physical therapy.  I didn’t have to worry about long lines at the ER, bribes to get me moved up on the surgery schedule, red tape from bureaucrats and a shrinking supply of healthcare personnel/devices to accommodate my demand.

Will the healthcare in the US be equal to what I received in 2006 when:

A) More medical personnel are exiting the profession,

B) Fewer R&D dollars are spent by medical device companies,

C) Fewer people are available at medical device companies to produce the products,

D) More restrictions are placed on payments for people in the government option and

E) Hospitals are losing money?

Only a fool says yes.

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4 Responses to Thanksgiving Thoughts On The US Healthcare Industry

  1. Solid post, Cosmo; Vegas wouldn’t give you very good odds betting on healthcare IMPROVING, that’s for sure.

    BTW: I’m finally back at a laptop for the 1st time in awhile.
    Been surviving off my Android, on the road (family stuff, work, hospice, hospitals, etc.,..)
    Anyway, just glad to be back…

  2. tannngl says:

    Can I add?
    The space program brought us one of the most helpful technologies we use in health care: telemetry. Heretofore, patients had to remain attached to machines that had to be kept plugged into the power outlet, so we could just watch their heart rate and rhythm and search for arrhythmias. Now they can be active, at home and in hospitals to prevent many complications and give a better picture of the person at their usual activity.

    We’re losing so much with this literla mindset in our healthcare.

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