Let’s celebrate Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

We Americans may pride ourselves on not having “socialized” medicine or “national healthcare”, but we do have a health care system that is a combination of public and private funding and administration. And even private healthcare must comply with a myriad of local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Every year on July 4th we celebrate Independence Day- the day the original 13 American colonies established an independent country.

They subsequently established a government, military, educational system, highway system, public works, and a healthcare system.

We Americans may pride ourselves on not having “socialized” medicine or “national healthcare”, but we do have  a health care system that is a combination of public and private funding and administration. And even private healthcare must comply with a myriad of local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Celebrate healthcare professionals

I believe we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world  because of the people who work in healthcare- the people who devote years to education and training and who work tirelessly 365 days a year, 24 hours a day to make and keep us well.  Their commitment, compassion, dedication and competence benefits all of us and deserves our gratitude.

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty lifting her torch in New York harbor

According to recent statistics, the United States government accounts for-

40% of healthcare  spending , totalling $1.3 trillion yearly

United States government healthcare covers 100 million individuals through 4 federal agencies

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Defense
  • Veterans Administration
  • Department of Homeland Security

(JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), June 21, 2016)

Government sponsored health care programs

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare

The  United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  During the last presidential campaign, President Trump vowed to “repeal and replace” this law but although it has been modified, it is still active

Healthcare for military service member, veterans ,and their families

During the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

a Veterans Administration clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by Dr. Aletha)
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

Medicare and Medicaid

Two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid are over 50 years old. 

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.  

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.
ELDERLY COUPLE -189282_1280
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

Several government agencies regulate, monitor,  promote and/or support both public and private healthcare including-

Food and Drug Administration- FDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC

National Institutes of Health- NIH

Occupational Safety and Health administration-OSHA

Drug Enforcement Agency-DEA

medication capsules
The FDA regulates the development and sale of medications and medical devices and the DEA regulates dangerous and controlled drugs.

LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HEALTHCARE

Congress enacted several important laws that administer and regulate both private and public healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act- ACA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-HIPPA

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act- EMTALA

Health Information Technology  for Economic and Clinical Health- HITECH

Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA

Liberty Bell -replica
replica of the Liberty Bell at Disney World, Florida

Let Freedom Ring

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States created a nation based on the “self-evident truths”  of  “Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and to promote “Safety and Happiness” . 

In the Constitution they vowed to “promote the general Welfare” .

I wonder if they envisioned their new government would spend so much time and money providing and regulating health care –

most of which was not available or even imagined at that time? 

Let’s celebrate!

woman holding a sprakler
Let’s celebrate ! This photo and featured image from stock photo site- Lightstock.com (affiliate)

Dr. Aletha 

a woman in a red, white, and blue shirt
Me, a few years ago, showing my patriotic spirit by posing in red, white, and blue

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

Even though the United States does not officially have “socialized” health care, a large proportion of our medical care is funded by the federal government. Even though I know that, I was still surprised by statistics in a recent article, which stated that  the federal government accounts for

40% of healthcare  spending
$1.3 trillion /year
Covering 100 million individuals

(stats from 2016)

Through 4 federal agencies

  • Department of Health and Human Services 
  • Department of Defense
  • Veterans Administration
  • Department  of Homeland Security

(JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), June 21, 2016)

The  United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  People who oppose the ACA ,aka Obama Care, dislike or even fear government involvement in medical care; they consider it interference, control, or even nationalization of the United States healthcare system.

a Veterans Administration clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by Dr. Aletha)

I think many people, even physicians, don’t realize or forget, how involved the government already is in healthcare. As far back as the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

wheelchair-749985_1280
Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.

The numbers are rather staggering.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

hospital-79605_1280
Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

Several government agencies regulate, monitor, promote and/or support  both public and private healthcare through the Deparment of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

Food and Drug Administration- FDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC

National Institutes of Health- NIH

Occupational Safety and Health administration-OSHA

Drug Enforcement Agency-DEA

Congress has enacted several important laws that  concern health care such as

 The Affordable Care Act- ACA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-HIPPA

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act- EMTALA

Health Information Technology  for Economic and Clinical Health- HITECH

Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA

LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HEALTHCARE

Sharing the HEART of health

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States  created a nation based on the “self-evident truths”  of  “Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as well as  to promote “Safety and Happiness” . 

In the Constitution they vowed to “promote the general Welfare” .

I wonder if they envisioned that would eventually include so much effort and money providing and regulating health care, most of which was not  even imagined at that time? 

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

And if you found this information interesting and helpful, please share with your friends on social media and elsewhere. They and I will appreciate it.

Dr. Aletha

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