It seems that in recent months, the subject of excessively increasing costs of medicine, doctors fees, emergency care and hospital patient expenses have been receiving more and more (and much-needed) attention in the major media and now in campaign rhetoric. It is about time that the subject is being broached in general discussion, perhaps with the result that the several reasons for these astronomical increases (far above normal inflation) will receive the attention needed to bring about changes.
As is usually the case, there are several reasons that quickly appear. From my position, it seems that the basic, root cause of all the problems would lie with the over-aggressive and underperforming regulatory personnel at federal and state government levels.
There is more than enough blame to go around at the federal level for the numerous regulatory bodies whose personnel exhibit the penchant to delight in exercising the unaccountable authority they have been granted.
Part of that is the result of the “Civil Service Laws” enacted during the administrations of FDR, D-New York. In my memory, the excuses given for them was to end the historic practice of “to the victor belong the spoils” as each time a new president took office, especially of a different political party, the old bureaucrats were immediately replaced – at all levels even down to that of postmaster. Part of the unintended consequence (or was it?) was the present situation of the impracticality of firing an incompetent, careless or disloyal employee. With that kind of job security the natural tendency of any human is to become impressed with one’s own control over others’ lives.
A primary culprit coming to mind is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which has jurisdiction over approval for use, in each condition, of every treatment procedure and every medication wanting to be used.
Whatever process they use to arrive at approval certainly has not received broad coverage so we the users and payers could try to understand. In some cases, the FDA has designated chemicals as drugs which must be approved that are contained in the air we breathe, such as oxygen, without which we would absolutely die.
In each such case, even if proven by use, but not approved for the purpose, Medicare, Medicaid and the VA will not pay for the use, even in the face of success and with a cost that is just a small fraction of the cost of the approved treatment or treatments.
All the while, there are occasional reports of approved methods resulting in injury or death.
Today with the ACA (Obamacare, or I prefer Pelosicare), it has come to my attention that any doctor writing a prescription for a treatment or medicine not approved for the condition will be subject to rather healthy fines, even if the treatment results in total cure without side effects.
One such situation, in particular, comes to my mind from personal experience, since the beginning of this century. This treatment, called HBOT (Hyper-Baric Oxygen Therapy) has been found very effective in treating a number of conditions and diseases, but is approved for only a very select few.
In February of 2006, my annual physical report revealed prostate cancer, but the doctor advised a six-month wait to observe. That did not suit me, so five months later HBOT was begun with five days of one-a-day treatment. That was all it took, with no adverse side effects and it has not returned since. Medicare did not cover this and all attempts to sway the agent resulted in the same “it’s not approved for that by FDA” comment.
It’s like talking to a recording even though the alternative treatments would have entailed tens of thousands of dollars (compared to $1,300.00). A year later it was used following facial surgery with no signs of the surgery seen after four days, again no adverse side effects. Again, Medicare refused reimbursement.
The system is broken or corrupt.