The most vulnerable need not die

Go figure, I’ve been in a holiday mood lately and with things slowing down at work there is extra time to catch up on some seasonal episodes of my favorite shows.  Last night was NCIS season 11 episode 11: “Homesick”.  The story line is that a severe respiratory disease is affecting the children of military personnel around the DC area.  As the team works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify the source of the infection, Dr. Mallard, the NCIS Medical Examiner,  calls Gibbs to notify him of the first fatality.  When Gibbs asks which of the children has died, Mallard replies

When it comes to infectious diseases, the old are just as vulnerable as the young.

Camera then pans to an ashen-skinned, gray-haired male lying in an open body bag.  Who knows where thoughts come from; but, that single line from a fictional show set forward an internal tirade revolving around the real price American’s pay each year due to two (mostly) preventable illnesses, influenza and pneumonia.  The price is paid in terms of hospitalization costs, lost days of productivity, and, in the worst of cases, with loss of life.

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Sustainability of the ACA

The intent of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), to insure under-served Americans, is certainly admirable.  It is crazy, however, to expect a family making $64,000/year to continually bear the full brunt of marketplace rate increases of 9-19% a year.

Middle class families ($64 – 125K/yr) are already paying 8-20% of income to pay for middle-of-the road (silver) coverage, not including deductibles and co-pays. As GAO shows that salaries are increasing slower than cost of living (2% vs. 4.25%) the middle class cannot continue to cover these costs.

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