Monday, November 23, 2009

I hope that you saw the 60 Minutes program last night (11/21) concerning the billions of dollars that Medicare (that's our tax dollars) is spending on the last month of life for thousands, perhaps millions, of dying elderly patients. In many cases these people are kept on life support in a hospital or nursing home and are subjected to numerous tests and procedures. The result is that they may live an extra month, but with a quality of life that no one would want. When will we wake up to the fact that our health care system is outrageously expensive, is not particularly effective and continues to rise at an unsustainable rate? We simply cannot afford, nor do we need, many of the tests and procedures to which patients, especially the elderly, are routinely subjected. In our service to accident victims at Lowry & Associates we see medical and hospital bills every day, and it never ceases to alarm me when I see the astounding amounts that are being charged. I think that the 60 Minutes program said that Medicare spends an average of $55,000 during the last month of life of Medicare recipients. Of course treatment of the elderly is not the only place where excessive amounts are being spent on patient care, but getting a handle on just that one aspect of health care could result in billions of savings to provide basic health care to people who can't afford it now.

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