Everywhere I turn, even in the midst of an economic calamity, I see calls and legislation for greater health coverage for everyone. Private employers are paring back health benefits to survive, but governments across the board are preparing to borrow to shell out billions that they do not have.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of Americans have put health care on hold in some way. Many avoid refilling a prescription or they skip a vaccination, checkup or other treatment.
But is this so foolish or dangerous? If the economy were to collapse entirely, and people were unable to get conventional medical care, I firmly believe the death rate would fall. Huh! you say. Rowen, you are nuts!
Why? There are only four times in recorded history that the death rate actually fell. The first was in highly technologically developed Israel in 1973. During a one-month physicians strike, the national death-rate reached the lowest rate ever. According to statistics by the Jerusalem Burial Society, the number of funerals dropped by almost half.
The same thing happened again in 1976 in Bogota, the capital city of Columbia. There, the doctors went on strike for 52 days. The death rate fell by 35% (National Catholic Reporter and confirmed by the National Morticians Association of Columbia).
Similar events happened in California a few years later, and in the United Kingdom in 1978 (see Confessions of a Medical Heretic by Robert Mendelsohn, MD).
Lets get back to Kaiser. People are not filling prescriptions and getting vaccines or checkups. Well, even American research has shown that prescription drugs are a leading cause of death. If you look closely at the scant research available (Pharma does not like these studies), most drugs may suppress a symptom, but do nothing to lower the all-cause morbidity (injury) and mortality (death). Diabetes drugs are a great example. They can lower your blood sugar while simultaneously raising your risk of dropping dead of a heart attack.
And vaccines? Theres no proof that flu vaccines or even childhood vaccines do more good than outright harm. In fact, theres significant evidence that flu vaccines induce Alzheimers and kids vaccines induce autism.
What about checkups? The dogma that you need a yearly checkup is just that, dogma. Research has disproven that yearly checkups save lives. In fact, they may speed up death by finding something that the doctor wants to treat with chemicals more dangerous than the disease.
What does a reasonable man conclude about the data on doctor strikes? I certainly would not go to a conventional doctor for anything but urgent/emergency care or for structural repair (which typically is required after an accident). I might end up as a statistic!
Strange as it may seem, know that a loss of some of your medical coverage might actually save your life.