Nothing but the Truth!
By Will Power
August 13, 2010 (San Diego)--Gerontologists have come up with startling news. The length of your life is dependant not on genetics, but on income. The richer you are, the longer you live.
While this seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy, it is also an indictment of a US system of health care that rewards the rich at the expense of the poor.
Poor people without health insurance cannot afford preventative care. They are less liable to know their weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. They are more prone to heart attacks and sudden death.
While the rich indulge themselves with tummy-tucks, facelifts, and botox, the poor cannot afford the least expensive generic drugs to control blood pressure and lipid levels.
Drug companies are at fault for pressuring MD's to prescribe expensive new drugs instead of cheaper generics. In the past few years, harmful drugs such as Avandia have been rushed to approval with fatal results. This is because new drugs have higher profit margins than older out-of-patent medications.
One example are the newer drugs designed to lower lipid levels. They are very expensive, and show little more effectiveness than a daily aspirin tablet.
As patients age, MD's are forced to prescribe many newer drugs, most of which are quite expensive. If a cancer diagnosis is made, one treatment can cost thousands of dollars. But in fact, many of these expensive drugs may prolong a patient's life for only 90 days- at the cost of half a million dollars.
Not only do US citizens get the best medical care money can buy, but they get the level of care they can afford. Which, for the poor, means no care at all. Ironically, in some cases, people who can avoid seeing MD's may actaually live longer. That's because they will still be able to afford to eat.
Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor. The opinions in this column reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.