Sunday, February 24, 2013

Unable to grasp the root of any problem Cont. - Healthcare

Healthcare chews up nearly 18% of GDP here in the U.S., about 2X its take in the other major industrial economies in the West. What do we get for our "double the price"?

Ripped off, that's what we get. The very name - "Healthcare" - is definitely the greatest misnomer in common usage today. At best it is "Sickcare" and it is more fairly described as "extortion during illness care".

I am not a physician. I wouldn't know a cell membrane from a mell cellbrane. I do possess are radically enhanced ability to count. I had reason to do some research on the outcomes for the standard treatment of various cancers - and, unfortunately there is scant (no) data to support the idea that anything modern medicine does in the treatment of many cancers does anything to extend life by very much, especially in the case of solid malignancies. There is real evidence of life extension for just a few cancers: Hodgkins Lymphoma, Childhood Leukemia, Testicular cancer, Anal cancer, and a few other cancers.

(The Cancer industry has a tremendous advantage in their false promises and exaggerated claims campaign - there are no control groups. No one withholds treatment from a control group in order to make a scientific comparison between treated and non treated populations. However, even with this coup for their propaganda effort there is no hiding the outcomes.)



From the article immediately above:
But it would be wrong to ignore the government task force’s conclusions. Given that slow-growing cancers may not need to be detected early to be cured, and that fast-growing ones may be fatal regardless of when they are found, the fact that its review of the available epidemiological data shows that P.S.A. testing does not save lives from prostate cancer should not come as a huge surprise.
Many practicing physicians know this (or feel this) anecdotally. Read this piece on "Why Doctors Die Differently".

(Sorry to be supplying so many links. This is such a brutal/touchy subject that I felt it better to source every assertion.)

I think you have the idea. For many cancers it does not matter when we are diagnosed - they cannot be "caught in time". In these cases, our fate is ineluctable. No amount of "cut, burn, and poison" (surgery/radiation/chemo) will change the outcome (or the date of the outcome). In fact, these treatments might subtract months or years from our "healthspan", or the time we have to live life. Of course, the Cancer Industry would itself die a quick death if The People actually believed and understood the data (little chance of that happening. Hope springs eternal - especially for "free" healthcare services).

So if all of the above is true, why would the marketplace pay a median (the average is certainly higher) annual compensation of nearly $300k to American oncologists? They have no discernible value - why would we pay them? (A number of other specialty medical fields come to mind regarding no discernible value. Back surgeons, anyone? And their median annual compensation is much greater - about $800k). Well, partly because we have no "marketplace". For most, healthcare is "free" (insurance pays).

There is an old saying in business: "That which is not measured is not managed." For the most part, there is no independent/outside auditor measuring the outcomes of medical treatments. No one is minding the store. There is a never ending stream of propaganda/advertising. (Don't you love those photo layouts of brain scan/XRAY's in TV and magazine commercials? A couple of models are looking pensively at the lit up white board at the mass in your brain as if looking at it will somehow cure you and leave you living happily ever after... and why is it always some old, bald, white guy and a too young to be a physician/beautiful Asian woman as the models in these commercials? Cue the theme music and "GE, we bring good things to life!!!!" Just not to the patient's life.)

OK. This is where I am going with this... Got that? From the article:

Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance. Stephanie got her mother to write her a check. “You do anything you can in a situation like that,” she says. The Recchis flew to Houston, leaving Stephanie’s mother to care for their two teenage children. 
About a week later, Stephanie had to ask her mother for $35,000 more so Sean could begin the treatment the doctors had decided was urgent. His condition had worsened rapidly since he had arrived in Houston. He was “sweating and shaking with chills and pains,” Stephanie recalls. “He had a large mass in his chest that was … growing. He was panicked.”

This medical practice took nearly $84k from a person at the most vulnerable moment in their life for a treatment that does not extend life? The family did not have enough money to stroke the check themselves... obviously, they don't have college/weddings/down payment on homes saved for their children. What resources the family does have is up 1 generation, and they are going to spend it on a treatment that has NO DISCERNIBLE BENEFIT. And Bernie Madoff got a life sentence while these people are "respected" professionals?

Am I the only normal person left?

The answer to all of this is to force people to buy health insurance?

This is what happens when innumerate people control the system and the dominant political party.

This is one of the great failings of technology. We get to know what is going to kill us so far before it does and we get to sit there and think about it while an industry springs up to take complete advantage of us at our most vulnerable moment. That industry is causing the real economic hardship and angst for The People. Any politician or administration that wants to survive the next election has absolutely no incentive to reign in Healthcare costs. Think about it. What would happen to the "economy" if Healthcare spending were suddenly dropped from 18+% of GDP to the 9% of GDP found elsewhere in the West? A contraction of 9% would be in line with the Great Depression and much worse than the Great Recession of 2008-09.

Hence Obamacare.










20 comments:

tweell said...

My view of our current health care system isn't quite as condemning. They are learning quite a lot about disease, genetics and how many different types of cancer there really are. We aren't seeing the payoff yet, but research has historically paid off big, given time.

I will also note that there's a lot of 'defensive' medicine being practiced, in that doctors have one eye checking for the lawyers hunting them. Doing away with that would drop our costs by at least a third (but isn't going to happen given that most of our politicians are ambulance-chasers).

We have the finest medical care money can buy, but like lots of things, the difference between 'good' and 'best' is minimal and costly.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Tweel:

The data does not support the cancer treatment folks.

THere is a big difference between "research" and treatment. Of course, interested parties should continue whatever research they see fit. What does that have to do with treating people with statistically ineffective treatment (in terms of life span) while charging them $500k on their way to meet their maker?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Nearly ALL of the the improvement in life expectancy in the industrialized world came about from (in no particular order):

Improved Nutrition
Improved Sanitation
Anti-Biotics
Vaccines

(I said "NEARLY ALL")

There has been almost no statistical gain in lifespan from advances in cancer treatment.

Anonymous said...

According to the AMA, (male) doctors live to an average of 70 years, they die some five years earlier than the average American male. Another guy did research and said it was more like 58 years old.
I think it is because they go to work early, skip breakfast... a nurse brought donuts... no time for a healthy lunch just a sandwich got money to make... get home... crash in front of the TV with some whisky sours....
Either way, they are telling us how to live and they are kicking off before everybody!
DaShui

Greg T. Jeffers said...

DaShui:

Not sure about your stats... BUT, if early detection or aggressive treatment modalities were effective, it is reasonable to conclude that those with the greatest info and access would benefit the most - and there is no evidence of that.

I fully believe that if that was the case that data point would be trumpeted from the highest mountains.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if cancer treatment doesn't hasten the demise. Right after surgery they seem to go downhill fast. Could be that they don't opperate until it's all but hopeless. However, it's not like anyone has an intrest in telling them to go home, avoid the radiation sickness, and just maby live a littke longer.

Best,
Dan

Publius said...

Regarding cancer, health-care, etc...
The whole system is so f'ed up it's unbelievable.

Literal monopolies, enforced by the state.
No ability to buy health "insurance" across state lines.

No market signals to limit demand.

The ability to charge various prices depending on your insurance status.

Technology that is horrendously expensive, for little gain.

People who are afraid of death, because they believe in nothing and have lived meaningless cubicle drone lives.

Wow.

Regarding cancer and statistics, there is a twist: with most/many cancers, the statistics change greatly at different stages.

For example, if you have a successful chemo treatment or surgery (that is, you survive), your chances may go up quite a bit from where they were before. So if you make it through the gauntlet... well, you are lucky.

What I find more interesting and hopeful are alternative treatments. I was incredibly skeptical, but as I mentioned some time ago in another post, a well-trained doctor of Chinese medicine has helped many individuals I know or know of - successful treatments that western medicine had given up on. We are taking MS, cancer, immune system stuff. I myself found that it helped my depression and anxiety. So, there are other modalities to try, in combination with Western medicine.

Western medicine hates competition, so I think we will see even more attempts by the AMA to destroy acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy, etc. In Europe, the battle by the godless heathens of Standard Medicine is more advanced: they make it hard to buy herbal treatments, etc.

There's always the odd miracle: the advanced deadly cancer that goes into sudden remission...

Spirituality is necessary both to face illness and death, and perhaps to even have a better chance of healing.

There is no doubt, though, that the current health care system is destined for collapse. If it doesn't, it will soon be eating up 100% of GDP. Since that's mathematically impossible, it won't happen.

I think the "sequester" is part of the plan to frighten the masses to accept big cuts.

I say let the sequester happen. It's the only way, for example, we will see any major cuts to defense spending while it can still make any difference in preventing our degradation into a third-world militaristic, authoritarian hell-hole.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Dan:

BINGO!!!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Publius:

There is absolutely NO DATA to support any increase in survival time from most (or all) of the "natural healing" stuff.

"Natural" stuff is what you do to avoid cancer, me thinks. Once you have it its a bit late, me thinks.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Publius:

Consider the time line. Say a person's ineluctable date of death is January 1, 1014.

By having better and better diagnostic technology, the cancer industry is able to diagnose that cancer earlier and earlier, but the date of death DOES NOT MOVE.

By mathematical necessity, the "survival period" from diagnosis keeps getting longer! Having nothing to do with the success of the treatment and everything to do with earlier diagnosis - a diagnosis that did NOTHING to increase lifespan but did increase the Stress-span of the time during which you know what it is that is going to kill you.

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

s off a little. Doctors die 2.5 years early.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020591

DaShui

Publius said...

Greg,
I'm not arguing with your facts, such as they are.

You should check out some of the short essays of William James, the founder of modern American psychology, and the brother of Henry James (the novelist). He considered it to be un-scientific to claim that something does not work, or does not exist, without evidence. Modern medicine's view of other modalities is a belief system (as is the other modalities). Even modern medicine, for example, has had to admit there is a mind-body connection. The University of Minnesota has a whole center devoted to this stuff, called the Center for Spirituality and Healing.

What I would like to put forward, but what I didn't do a good job of explaining, is this:

If you are diagnosed with a bad, generally terminal in a quick-way cancer, with few treatment options, then I agree: why waste the exorbitant sums on suspect treatments for little reward other than more suffering.

However, regarding the alternative treatments, they generally cost so little that there is little risk involved in trying them. It'd kind of like Pascal's Wager: if you try something and it helps, you've gained a lot. If you try it and it doesn't help, you have lost very little. At least if you stick to alternative medicine/treatment and things that cost little. Even the NY Times some years ago had a documented story in the Sunday Magazine by a writer who had a bad cancer diagnosis. Instead of giving up, he made major changes to his diet, did meditation, etc. (I can't remember the exact details). Whether it was a freak streak of good luck, or whether it was the diet or something else, it worked. He survived, when his doctors told him he wouldn't.

Regarding the woman we know who was told that her MS would kill her, well, she has recovered without relapses and gone to grad school. Was it just good luck, or was it the Chinese medicine?

Regarding mainstream studies of alternative medicine: good lord. It is become more known and proved that the mainstream studies of mainstream treatments are almost all contaminated by bias, self-interest on the part of the drug companies, and the selective use of the data to show better results than warranted, and the suppression of deadly side effects. In some cases the fraud is so bad the FDA is forced to withdraw approval. Statistics can lie, and usually do when those who promulgate them have a financial interest at stake.

Is this mainstream medicine's view of alternative medicine really the most rational view to take? But again, even a Pascal's Wager take on it would indicate that trying something that might work, if it costs little, is worth it.

tweell said...

Anecdotes are just one point of data, but I have a daughter that's alive due to a skilled (or lucky) oncologist. She had a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma wrapped around her carotid artery. My wife died of liver cancer, and she chose minimal services. The oncologist admitted that the most he could do would maybe get her a year, at a very high cost of money and pain.

The oncologists I have dealt with have always been honest, they explained what they could do and what the chances were. I do not blame them for doing what their customer requests. The rampant overcharging, now...

Publius said...

Here's an interesting study that came out today:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/health/mediterranean-diet-can-cut-heart-disease-study-finds.html?nl=health&emc=edit_hh_20130226&_r=0


Headline:
Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke
*********
Regarding the honesty of mainstream medical studies on treatment effectiveness, here is just one data point:

http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20121202/NEWS0107/212020302/

Headline: Honest research vs. drug company bias

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Anonymous said...

I know nothing pisses PioneerRacist off more than knowing that poor people will have health insurance now, especially poor niggers. Gosh, what happened to 'Murica anyhow? Remember back when we whites were the undisputed masters of this continent? Back when faggots could be rounded up and tossed in jail for no reason? Shee-it, 'Murica was still a real kuntry back then.

Anonymous said...

Pubicunt apparently believes in the magic of alternative medicine which proves one thing: he/she is an idiot. I wonder if Pubicunt sleeps on magnetized mattresses and wears crystals. Makes you wonder why they'd bother on a blog trolled by the worst racist and libertardian thugs around. When the shit hits the fan, PioneerRacist and the rest of his racist cunts will probably mow down all of the burnt out hippie New Agers. Shee-it, he'd say, them people hain't laik us.