Sunday, September 9, 2012
An Economic Exercise: Health, Wellness & Death
Let us say as a hypothetical that starting this Instant ~ 'snap-of-a-finger', there was no more illness or physical pain... Gone.
No cancer, AIDS, or other incurable diseases infecting the body... If you were wounded by gun, knife or say, in a traffic wreck, your body would fully heal on its own without need of medical assistance...
No heart attacks or diabetes; No tooth aches or tummy aches.. No chicken pox or even the common cold... And every individual's lifespan simply ended at 100yrs old; ended instantly like that of a common non-rechargeable AA battery...
Question: How would this adversely affect the US economy?
First and foremost, if no one ever got sick or needed medical treatment of any kind, then millions of doctors, dentists and other medical professionals would become instantly unemployed. No need for most nurses, dental associates or lab technicians either.
No need for hospitals since the above mentioned procedures could be done in clinics, so they'd all pretty much close up and the hospital industry would go bankrupt.
No need for hospice-- when you die, its sudden & immediate, not prolonged.
No need for ambulances either so that business goes kaput.
No need for chiropractors or any kind of physical therapy since in our example, the body heals itself very quickly on its own.
No need for most types of health insurance coverage-- why purchase insurance for something like illness you're never going to suffer with. Cosmetic surgery isn't usually covered anyways so the insurance industry couldn't stay afloat simply to provide coverage for births and abortions.
No need for most prescriptions either... No healthy person takes prescription pills just for the hell of it. The only prescriptions profitable to the pharmaceuticals would be psychological drugs and the costs of the pills would skyrocket to try to make up the lost revenue from other medicines now no longer needed.
Even the law profession would suffer. How can one sue a hospital or medical professional for wrongful death if there was no death? How can one sue for a 'victim's' pain and suffering when according to our hypothetical, there isn't any; the body quickly heals itself of any wounds. A person couldn't even use illness as an excuse to sue for lost wages.
The only thing lawyers could sue related to medical would be.. you guessed it.. a botched cosmetic procedure.
Then there's law enforcement-- No need for a coroner's office, nor for homicide detectives. People could still be arrested for shooting at one another but as a specific division of law enforcement, 'Homicide' would not be needed since no one could die from violent attacks.
OK, so far everything we've expressed based on this scenario is pretty obvious.. Now let's take things a step or two further to show how fully interconnected the economy is...
We mentioned no need for doctors, dentists, hospitals, etc.. Well each of those entities have offices or buildings from which local property taxes are collected. No illness means no medical professionals, meaning dramatic reductions in occupied physical locations to practice medicine and that means drastic reductions in tax revenue.
Cities, counties and communities would end up with two choices-- cut backs in social services, police, fire, etc... or dramatic increases in property taxes and/or sales tax on purchases to cover the losses.
Same thing for local television-- what types of commercials does one see? Usually its lawyers i.e. ambulance chasers and technical colleges offering degrees in medical related fields. And what type of commercial is most predominant during nightly network newscasts at 6:30p? Pharmaceuticals... prescriptions.
Then there's the Universities and Colleges-- no need to offer degrees in Medicine, Nursing and related fields since its so unprofitable to become a medical professional with no one ever sick or dying. And if there's no one borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars at compounded interest to be paid over 10-20 years to get their medical degree, the student loan business drastically suffers.
And there's the matter of employment-- if people are living to 100 and not sick or ill, it means people in their 80s and 90s are physically able to do the same tasks they could complete in their 30s and 40s-- they either will keep working and working until 100 and thus block the younger generations from employment, or would have to be mandatory forced to retire and collect social security for 25-35years...
Amazing to think how much of our economy is so dependent on people getting ill, catching disease, being ravaged with cancer and dying; how many people make a living directly or indirectly off the physical suffering and decay of others.