Thursday, July 30, 2009

Manage Health Care/Promote Wellness

Manage health care becomes a contradiction in terms when we do not create preventative measures. This is true is so many areas of American culture. Look how me manage our environmental resources? We invested little in preventing pollution however, latter waste billions attempting to clean things up. America will prosper when we fully invest in wellness.

Certainly we do not manage our health care system. Health care premiums have shot up more than 90 percent from 2000-2007. Government involvement is important to regulate need from greed. In the last decade, profits from the largest 10 health care insurers has increased 428 percent.

Besides preventing the escalting costs and increasing competition to make such insurance affordable we must create incentives to conserve. Critical to the health care reform is providing choice. Choice is a key issue for Americans not whether it is private or public insurance. For example, in the early 90's our indemnity insurance vanished. We lost this choice. At the same time take overs, mergers and insuranace consolidations have taken many of our choices away - less competition, less options, higher insurance premium costs

Like many things today in our country we the taxpayers must pay for market failure when either capitalism fails or the government fails to best serve the public. Our Congress now has to walk the razors edge. Yes we must reform health care however do so without substantially change it. Each one us has to become more responsible and be rewarded for our efforts. Prevention will not happen until we stimulate ways that cure.

One idea is to give me greater incentives for maintaing my wellness. While today I get some reduce rates on my insurance these benefits are modest. If I do not drink, smoke and keep my weight down then lessen my premium.

One perfect example is medical cost of treating obsesity-related diseases may soar as high as $147 billion in 2008, according the Center for Disease Control. In 1998 these same cost were estimatd at $74 billion. Obesity rose 37% between 1998 and 2006
and medical cost rose about 9.1%. Obese people spend 42% more than people of normal weight, a difference of $1429. The Wall Street Journal on July 28th documents in the "Cost of Treating Obesity Soars," D3 by Betsy Mckay, that the average American is 23 pounds overweight.

Health care reform will not happen unless there are carrots and sticks. If we do not get people to eat right, exercise then our health cost will continue to bankrupt us. Government and private sector programs must connect the dots and promote wellness if we are serious about caring for our future.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Real Terror: Greenhouse Gases and Politics

There are two sources of dangerous air emissions threatening this planet: the first consists of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse contributory emissions; the second is the gas generated by politicians. Yes, we are truly in the danger zone when it comes to the first category, but even more alarming, is that public ignorance, apathy, and fear is failing to provoke action on the part of our elected officials.

Rarely has the scientific community been more in accord than on the imminence of global warming and our role in bringing it about, but at the same time, our political response has been dismal as evidenced by the tenor of public debate on these issues or by the lack of any debate at all. You would be forgiven for thinking that economic development, energy issues, climate change, national security and health care issues are inextricably interlinked, and you would be right in thinking that, but you would be in the minority. We are masters at failing to connect the dots. Right now as carbon dioxide is being pumped at ever-increasing rates into our air basin—some ten of thousands of times faster than nature can deal with it—the earth’s own refrigeration processes are dying. So are tens of thousands of living things on this fragile plant of ours.

Elizabeth Kolbert writes in her article “The Castrophist” in the June 29, 2009 issue of the New Yorker:

There's no precise term for the level of C02 that will assure a climate disaster, the best that scientists and policy makers have come up is the phrase "dangerous anthropogenic interference or D.A.I...In scientific circles, worries about D.A.I. are widespread. During the past few years, researchers around the world have noticed a disturbing trend: the planet is changing faster than had been anticipated. pg 42

James Hansen, NASA's leading climate expert disagrees with officials that the D.A.I. levels are around four hundred and fifty parts per million:

The bad news is that it's become clear that the dangerous amount of carbon dioxide is not more than three hundred and fifty parts per million.

Presently we are at three hundred and eighty five parts per million, and at current emissions we will reach four hundred fifty parts per million by 2035. Interestingly whatever the D.A.I. levels are, it is a problem, and the political and public response is skeptical and lacking. Just look at our largely failed efforts in the U.S. toward conservation--the most effective and efficient first step is evidence of our public neglect.

With today's economic woes “business-as-usual” is the norm. It seems people care about their future from the perspective of next week or next month-hardly in a few years from now.

Most scientists agree that coal is the most serious threat today, and some are advocating for "no new coal-fired plants," The current challenge is that 50 percent of our energy comes from coal! The recent "American Clean Energy and Security Act" passed by the House of Representatives allows for new coal-fired plants while its stated aim is to cut the country's carbon emissions by seventeen percent in 2020.

Interestingly, the article " The Castrophist," states (p.45):

Hansen argues that politicians willfully misunderstand climate science; it could be argue that Hansen just as willfully misunderstands politics. In order to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, annual global emissions would have to be cut by something on the order of three-quarters. In order to draw them down, agriculture and forestry practices would have to change dramatically as well. So far, at least, there is no evidence that any nation is willing to taking anything approaching the necessary steps. On the contrary, almost all trend lines point in the opposite direction. Just because the world desperately needs a solution that satisfies both scientific and the political constraint doesn’t mean one necessarily exists...

(Hansen) As long as we let politicians and the people supporting them continue to set the rules, such that "business-as-usual' continues, or small tweets to ‘business-as-usual' then it is unrealistic. So we have to change the rules.

You would think if one of the leading climate expert is worried about our earth's future more of us should be also quite concerned.

Finally, Jerome Glenn, director of the Millennium Project, recently remarked how we can best deal with our climate crisis;

There are answers to our global challenges, but decisions are still not being made on the scale necessary to address them.

The times call for people of all walks to be the solution to our collective eco-problems. If we have any hope of addressing our ecological ills; politicians, scientists, business men and women, intellectuals, teachers, doctors and nurses, your neighborhood mechanic and that man walking his dog in your street--in short you, me and all of us--must become aware of the interdependence of all aspects of life and the true environmental costs of our human activities on our precious and threatened earth. By addressing what is head on, we can perhaps avert the worst case scenarios and begin to insure our future on this fragile planet.