Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November 2008. The main plank of his platform was a plan for national health insurance. In March, 2010, The United States Congress passed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Obama was re-elected in November 2012, reaffirming the will of a majority of the American People. No amount of money or sick racial hatred would have hindered us. On June 28 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of this twice-mandated decision by the American People.

It is interesting that those opposing the Affordable Care Act quite often cite the rising costs of healthcare in the United States as a result of our government’s spending on healthcare. It is true that medical care isincreasingly expensive. This has several root causes. One is that there are dramatically effective diagnostic treatments newly available, but which require longer hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations. A second root cause is that there has been nothing to prevent insurance and pharmaceutical companies from raising their prices in anticipating the implementing of the Affordable Care Act. Let us not blame the President for their having done this.Third, it is  true that inflation, with the Consumer Price Index, has increased astronomically. According to the following chart (I don’t know how reliable it is, but I have lived through most of the increase that it shows, and can vouch for it in general) 5000 dollars in 1956 would take 42,900 dollars in 2013:

Of course we might expect quality to account for a considerable amount of the increase. If the technological achievements in medical care parallel those in technology in general, we might anticipate a lowering of these costs over the next few years. I am thinking about the cost of chips, circuit boards, computers, cameras and TVs. You can hold a 4GB SanDisk memory card in the palm of your hand now for a couple of dollars. In  1956 that might have been more memory than all the computers on earth would need. Remember the IBM cards, the many stacks of them and the room their gear required, and how little was accomplished with them that you personally had access to, or knew about? What would all that have cost in 1956 dollars?

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