Skip to main content

The Rising Cost of Healthcare

The BBC has an interesting article drawing on the discussions at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Its main thrust is that healthcare costs are driving the current economic downturn in the West. It claims that healthcare costs in the US amount to 20% of all government spending, whilst most European countries are spending around half of that treating the sick, elderly and infirm.

There should be little that is surprising in the article, healthcare costs are high because of social and government failures in keeping the population well. Never more has the old axiom 'an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure' been more appropriate than today. More so when Government austerity measures are all but designed to increase the healthcare burden through their social impact.

The greatest part of healthcare spending goes to treating chronic care conditions - and many of those conditions are preventable, most at next to no cost, some at minimal cost. Take three of the more common non-congenital chronic conditions: COPD, Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and Asthma. The first two are almost exclusively a result of poor lifestyle choices - smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet - whilst the third is usually a result of poor environment. Already its become apparent that the UK's ban on smoking indoors has had a positive effect on child asthma. Its likely that future COPD rates will also be reduced by the same change. More so if measures were extended to all public places. Better, integrated transport systems would further improve the future diagnosis of Asthma.

Its entirely possible that T2D could be significantly reduced in the long term by making changes in school life. As little as 30 minutes activity a day and a better diet at school ages could reduced the number of children and young adults being diagnosed with what used to be called late onset diabetes - an old persons disease.

However, the government's austerity budget has meant that school meals are being provided at cheaper and cheaper rates (and lower and lower quality) by local councils, there's no money for more playgrounds and out of school activities to encourage a healthy lifestyle and the results are being seen in more and more morbidly obese children.

The answer being proposed for the UK is more insurance based healthcare - which clearly hasn't had a positive effect in the US. Its the wrong answer, especially when the costs of all this prevention are minimal compared with the cost of paying the long term cost of treating a patient.

Perhaps because the payback is so far into the future no British government - so focused on the short term - would risk its implementation. Storing up more and more trouble for the future...


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.