BIG PHARMA FRAUD & OVERWEIGHT AMERICANS DRIVE HEALTH CARE COSTS
Byron J. Richards, CCN
July 30, 2009
While Democrats shoot themselves in both feet trying to explain how their proposed health care reform will be able to contain costs over time, there is another much better organized group who is pushing very hard to get this legislation through and is poised for dramatic profits at the expense of the American taxpayer. That group is the lobbyists that represent Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, hospital groups, and insurance companies.
According to OpenSecrets.org these groups put up $484 million in lobbying money in 2008, getting ready for this legislation. You can just imagine how much they are spending this year. The reason you can imagine the sum must be quite large is because Obama and company are doing absolutely nothing to address the key issues of how these groups plan to profit from a government-backed stream of millions of new customers.
The trend in the last several years is that employer-sponsored health care plans are shrinking and individual policies are too expensive for many. Government and private insurance are cozying up and private insurance companies are playing a middle-man role in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. At stake is the dividing of the hundreds of billions of dollars per year pie created by fraudulent Big Pharma sales.
The lobbying scenario is quite different than the previous Clinton attempt at a health care overhaul. At that time health industry was by and large against what was going on. This time they are fully on board and pushing very hard to make something happen, jockeying for their position in the New World Health Order.
The sad reality is that this group profits from sickness. They like poor health. They know individuals and companies can’t afford what they have to offer, so they have to call it “health care” or “health insurance,” and run a publicity campaign designed to make the American public feel guilty for not paying for everyone’s often fraudulent care.
Their current agenda is to bilk dying cancer patients of $50,000 to $100,000 with drugs that have no chance of curing anything yet extend life two or three months. By the way, I have a solution for this problem. No payment should be owed unless the cancer treatment given extends life a full year past the conclusion of the treatment. Writing that into the current legislation would immediately stop massive fraud.
Big Pharma really got excited a few years back when they saw minorities were the biggest new users of the expanded Medicare program, responsible for a 5% increase in drug sales when other demographics were flattening. The new pot of gold, the 46 million currently uninsured, are quite frankly the most unhealthy members of the population due in no small part to their own failures to take care of themselves. Big Pharma is licking its chops because this is not care for emergency needs, this is ongoing sales of highly profitable drugs that “need” to be taken every day and are a major cash cow.
Obama is making no effort to be able to negotiate drug prices or the effectiveness of their treatments with this band of thugs – as their lobbies are running roughshod over Republicans and Democrats alike. Imagine an industry where you can sell a product for 100 times what it costs to produce, because taxpayers foot the bill. That is the general Big Pharma mark up, and many drugs sell for a thousand times their cost to produce. This issue isn’t even addressed.
On top of that, many of the best-selling drugs being crammed down the throats of Americans are near useless for the majority of those taking them in terms of improving the public health. This includes statins, bone drugs, brain drugs, and many other types of medication. Furthermore, the actually safety of the majority of these drugs is almost completely unknown, which is why there are millions of injuries requiring hospitalization each year and over one hundred thousand needless deaths per year. Medication injuries cost $20 - $75 billion per year. There is one drug scandal after another, as Big Pharma tries to wrack up sales while hiding risk data and hoping to make a financial killing before they are stopped.
How can the American public be so gullible as to stand for this charade? There is no way taxpayers can carry the burden of this fraud. It is what is already driving the high cost of health care and unless it is addressed adding millions of new users to this system will only make it worse and more costly for everyone.
Just about everyone I know is in favor of some sort of health care safety net for people with serious health problems, especially those that were not caused by their own doing. Of course everyone would like health care to be more affordable. However, the current health care system is already being scammed for hundreds of billions per year. The newly proposed system will simply expand the scope of the existing problem. It is high time that someone in power take the bull by the horns.
No sane solution even has a chance as long as there are the big-spending lobbies buying the laws they want, spending their money to make sure taxpayers will keep sending them hundreds of billions more each year. There are many elements within the health care system that are nothing but parasites.
Health Costs Relating to Obesity Skyrocket
A new report published in the journal Health Affairs shows that the cost of treating obesity-related health problems has doubled in the past decade, from 78 billion a year in 1998 to 147 billion in 2008. Each obese person costs the overall health system an extra $1,429 per year, a 42% higher cost to insure compared to a normal weight person. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese.
Last year the journal Obesity reported on obesity trends and costs, projecting that “by 2030 86.3% adults will be overweight or obese….Black women (96.9%) and Mexican-American men (91.1%) would be the most affected….Total health-care costs attributable to obesity/overweight would double every decade to 860.7–956.9 billion US dollars by 2030, accounting for 16–18% of total US health-care costs.”
The majority of the incurred costs relate to diseases that obesity causes, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This group is bar far the biggest pointless users of expensive medication. By and large, the path to disease through obesity is self inflicted. The costs are staggering.
It is apparently politically incorrect to discuss this issue in any meaningful way. However, the block of 46 million uninsured Americans are likely to be higher than the existing pool of insured Americans in rate of obesity.
Why do Americans who watch their weight, eat well, exercise, and do multiple things to be healthier want to pay for the health costs of people who spend their lives pigging out on junk food? How is that remotely fair?
This is one major part of health costs that must be addressed to achieve the goal of a financially solvent health system. The failure to do so will result in class and race conflict.
My proposal is to limit the amount of money to be spent on health care for any individual whose waistline is more than twice his/her height in inches (a low tech and reliable indicator of the amount of extra fat that is associated with disease risk). For every extra inch of waistline above this point an individual’s insurance rates should rise, or treatments should be denied above a certain point unless they are paid for out of pocket.
There is no other fair way to do this. While some will consider such an approach heartless, it is the obese person who is heartless to themselves. Society cannot foot the burden of gross irresponsibility. This problem permeates the existing health care system and is one of the main drivers of current costs ballooning out of control.
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Unless real cost issues are tackled head on, such as self-inflicted health problems like obesity and fraudulent Big Pharma drug sales, neither the current system or any future system has a prayer of containing costs in a way that would allow individuals and families affordable health care for legitimate reasons.