How to Improve your Health and Health Care

Most people get lost in the maze of health care, and suffer as a result. Some strategies help…

Throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, and much of the developing world, people have told me that they cannot get good medical care. In some cases good care is too expensive, in other cases medical care is affordable but poor quality, and in still other cases medical care, good or bad, does not exist. Some friends with significant health care problems labor in austere conditions never knowing when a medical emergency will strike, and if they will be able to get help when and where they need.

Some people have similar problems in the developed world, even including the United States. America has been swept by debates about health care, especially about how to make quality health care available to all Americans. Medicare is a government single payer program for the elderly and Medicaid is the same for the poor, but these programs pay providers too little and yet are unsustainably expensive for the nation. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the most recent Federal attempt to improve Americans’ health, but the results have been mixed. Fundamentally the ACA was health insurance reform, not health care reform, and providing someone with an insurance card is not the same as providing them with health care. Hence we have millions who lost their insurance, millions who got new insurance, and millions waving their new insurance cards in the air who cannot get care because it doesn’t exist in their area, wait times are too long, or the system pays so little that providers cannot afford to take these patients.

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Confidence in Hard Economic Times

Hard times are inevitable in every life, but their are ways to weather them.

The chattering class in Washington DC and elsewhere is abuzz with concern about the “fiscal cliff”, involving legislation passed in the summer of 2011 requiring tax increases and spending cuts to decrease the exploding US Federal deficit. The Washington Post suggests that this “fiscal cliff” would raise taxes over $2,000 per year on many middle income families, decrease spending, fray the safety net, and push the US economy into another recession. The “fiscal cliff” is simply the latest in a series of financial troubles that have plagued man throughout history, including such the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1720, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Great Recession of 2008, and countless others. As always, the media is convulsed with worry, ordinary people differ in their responses, with some feeling helpless, others ambivalent, and a few confident.

Though I have not done formal interviews, those who feel helpless seem to believe that they will lose their jobs, their expenses will skyrocket, and there is nothing that they can do about it. These people wring their hands in fear and impotence and find it harder to function in their day to day lives. Those who are ambivalent usually don’t know what is going on. A few have confidence based on their assumption that everything will turn out fine because it always has in the past.

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