What are the Long-Term Consequences of Better Health Care?
We all want to have good healthcare-even both sides on the Obama healthcare reform debate can agree upon that.
We want doctors who are available when we need them. We want the latest in medical testing and treatment to identify and nip problems in the bud, so we can live healthy and fulfilling lives.
But isn't living longer the natural consequence of better health care? What are the consequences of that? That is what Los Angeles Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez writes about in a recent column.
Here's an excerpt:
You hear critics grousing all the time about the social consequences of having large cohorts of restless young people -- particularly men -- around. They are generally blamed for rises in crime and even social and political unrest in places like the Middle East. But what kind of social consequences can we expect from large cohorts of the elderly, retired and healthy Floridizing all 50 states?
An aging population, Rodriguez, writes, would not only increase pension and Medicare costs on society, but it also could lead to more "cranky ‘tea partyers' and a less optimistic and forward-thinking culture." It also could lead to more loneliness, isolation and depression among elders, he writes.
Rodriguez points to Japan, which has good health care and the longest life expectancy in the world-so much so that one-third of the Japanese population will be senior citizens by 2030.
But experts report that the Japanese are exhausted and depressed, and that more and more senior citizens are committing suicide, Rodriguez writes. "They are burdened by the lengths of their lives," he says.
What do you think? What would the future look like if life expectancy were to increase? What would be the social, economic and political repercussions?
How would seniors' political considerations differ from younger voters?
What would your life look like? How long would you have to work if the life expectancy were to increase? How much money would you have to save for retirement?
What would the quality of your social life be like? What sort of situation would you live in and what kinds of activities would you imagine yourself participating in? Would you live with your family? Would you live in a retirement community?
What if you were to live longer, but had to stay in an assisted-living or skilled nursing facility?
Share your thoughts in the comments below. You need to be a registered member of ReportingonHealth.org to leave a comment, so if you haven't joined yet, click here. It's easy, quick and free. You can follow us on Twitter, too, @ReportingHealth.