Note: The way I use the term “Health” in the context of the Interlock represents a “big-tent” approach to medicine and the health of the American people – I’m referring to a lot of things with one word. This includes the level of health of the average American, life expectancies, upticks or drops in the prevalence of various medical conditions, disability rates, health-related unemployment and loss of work time, and the cost, effectiveness, and efficiency – or inefficiency – of the systems through which Americans receive medical care. Like many other pieces of the Interlock, this way of defining problem areas takes an extremely complex subsystem of American society and treats it as a “black box” in order to keep the overall complexity of the Interlock itself at a manageable level. — MK
The problems in America’s health domain don’t touch as many different pieces of the Interlock as Corruption or the Economy, but they have an outsized effect on human capital, government finance, and the economic system, which means that they have a disproportionate direct and indirect impact on the Interlock and on American society as a whole. We’re facing a range of problems, including new threats to our health, a misallocation of resources within the medical system, a growing and increasingly unmet demand for healthcare workers, and the disastrous growth of medical costs and the cost of insurance. We’re already feeling the pain from these dysfunctions in our health system – the political frenzy over Obamacare (from both sides of the aisle) is a good display of how bad things already are.
Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse. Looking ahead, and combining our current health and healthcare problems with the impacts from other parts of the Interlock, we’re facing a crisis in how many Americans will have access to effective and affordable medical care, and a growing number of Americans who are too unhealthy to be productive members of the workforce. Just combining demographic trends with recent healthcare trends produces frightening outcomes in coming decades. If you project out the aging of the population and the long-term trends in cost and coverage, health care will consume more than a third of GPD by 2030. That is economically unsustainable. Something, somewhere, is going to give.
Fixing America’s health issues will require much more than just fixing the insurance system. It will require a substantial increase in medical training facilities, a major commitment to finding the causes of the “first-world” health issues, and a serious effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare delivery system itself. We need to bring the cost down and bring the quality up and slow or reverse the rise in long-term disabilities, or the drag on the economic system will slow growth to the point where we cannot afford even the poor quality of care we now have.
Part 1: New health problems
Part 2: The wrong kind of medicine
Part 3: Very expensive medicine
Part 4: Bad health insurance
Part 5: Interactions – Health