A few years back, during the Reagan presidency, the White House administration was targeting government waste and fraud. A clever cartoon, Doonesbury, I think, lampooned the effort showing a janitor reporting to the Human Resources director for termination pay. “What did you get fired for?” queried the jaded HR fellow. Hanging his head in shame, the janitor spilled, “Waste and fraud?”
“So you’re the one!” the director yelled, wagging his finger.
Well, my friends, I am here to tell you, “I am the one!” That’s right, I am the one responsible for the escalating cost of health care.
You see, I am a medical engineer. I’m the fellow that designs ultrasound machines. A phalanx of my similarly employed compadres are responsible for the CAT scanners and the MRIs and the heart stents and laparoscopic tools, gizmos and the unending list of fantastically complicated designer drugs, and disease reducing plastics comprising use-once instruments like hoses, syringes, blood pressure cuffs and on and on and on.
I and my friends are the techno geeks that you depend on to provide cures and comfort, life instead of early death and disease. All this is new, always improved and oh, did I mention, available for a price? I must confess, I, too, like to eat and have a roof over my head, and like most parents, I have ambition for my children. It is the way of things.
Stripped of things like car accidents and gang violence, Americans live longer and better than any people on the planet and, yes, I take some professional pleasure in counting myself in some small measure part of that success; one ingredient in our national search for the elixir of eternal life.
Certainly, I am in good company with competitors striving daily to outdo me in cost and new features, and occasionally a disruptive breakthrough. This capitalistic system all works pretty well to give you more years and more comfortable ones for your buck, but then here I come with one more gizmo, and oh yes, you’re going to want it.
I know you were about ready to administer the lethal injection to the insurance company, but please, hold that syringe! It was I and my buddies all along, selling the Fountain of Youth elixirs that keep driving up the cost.
You wanted it, I designed it and the fact is the elixir is not without cost.
So if you have been listening to the siren song of “health care reform,” claiming to rein in costs, know this, it will be done by rationing what I provide; that will be the “reformers’” real tools. Rationing will dry up the incentive I once had to make that improved pacemaker and drug delivery system. Instead of a stat CAT scan and a regiment of the latest clot buster drug to cure your stroke, you may get a prescription that reads, simply “Hurry up and die, Granny, and decrease the surplus population while you’re at it.”
This is exactly what happened to my father when on extended stay in Canada. When they found out he had transitioned from American Insurance to Canadian Care (a close variation of Obama Care) they determined he had lived long enough and was not worth a CAT scan nor the expense of the drugs.
So before you jump at the chance to stick a hot poker in the eye of the health care industry, try to remember it will be me and thousands like me that will have a dickens trying to work with only one good eye left. Ask my forever brain-impaired father, he can tell you, if he could speak clearly, that is.