“IN AMERICA nearly one in every five dollars spent is on health
care, a larger share than in any other country. Many of the culprits are well-known. Americans
have more procedures, pay more for them, and face exorbitant administrative costs.”
(Ref. 1) One major cost driver is the growing number of senior
citizens who have much higher health care costs than the lower aged segment of America’s
population. Medicare, Obamacare and Medicaid pay out a much larger percentage of their
expenditures to service the elder segment of American society. Social Security has long
been known to be underfunded and is headed toward fiscal Armageddon. “Social Security is
facing some financial issues . . . The program's trust funds, which it relies on when its
financial obligations exceed its incoming revenue, are set to run out of money by 2035.”
I am an octogenarian with my share of medical expenses – a major
portion of which is paid out of Medicare. My health, like that of many seniors, is worse
than that of most young Americans. As a result, I am more susceptible to bad outcomes from
common illnesses that have only minor impacts on the younger and healthier segments of
American society. In addition, as a senior citizen, I have been receiving a monthly check
from the Social Security trust fund for more than 15 years, ever since I turned 65.
I am proposing a quick and practical solution to the financial
problems facing all of the government social programs listed above. In one element of my
solution, I am proposing a government supported program that will allow all seniors – those
above the age of 65 – to take a two-week visit to mainland China. There, these seniors will
stay with local Chinese families to absorb the local culture, save the costs of expensive
hotels and to become infected with the Coronavirus.
Another element of my proposed program is to subsidize two-week
cruises for senior citizens, particularly those with compromised immune systems. Here again,
the object is to have those taking the cruise become infected with the Coronavirus.
Just think of the immense cost savings to the social programs that
expend so much money on our aging population. Social Security which only pays out money to
seniors would likely become solvent in a very short time. Medicare, Obamacare and Medicaid
would see a dramatic reduction in costs, which could then be passed along to our younger
citizens in the forms of reduced premiums and reduced co-pays.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts concerning the Coronavirus.
Do seniors and seniors with health problems have a higher death rate than healthy young
people? MOST DEFINITELY, YES! “In its more severe form, the disease definitely
seems to be affecting older persons. In fact, eighty percent of the deaths that have been
recorded are those over the age of sixty. Also, seventy-five percent of the deaths have been
with persons who have had pre-existing health conditions, especially like cardiovascular
disease and diabetes, which also tend to be in the elderly as well.”
While the fearmongers have given the impression that everyone is
going to die from the spread of the Coronavirus, the facts belie their doomsday warnings. In
reality, the overall chances of dying from the Coronavirus are only 2.3% - about 1 in 43.
Other estimates suggest the fatality rate could be higher: around 4.3%, i.e., still, only
about 1 in 23 infected with the virus are predicted to die as a result. The current mortality
rate, based on the ratio of reported deaths to total cases worldwide, hovers around 3.4% -
around 1 in 29. But the study that reported these statistics found that the fatality
rate rose to 8% - about 1 in 12 - for patients in their 70s and 15% among those in their 80s –
about 1 in 7. Out of more than 44,000 coronavirus patients studied, the majority of deaths
were among those at least 60 or older.
We don’t have many opportunities like this to make the Social
Security System solvent. Similarly, the chances to reduce spending on Medicare, Obamacare
and Medicaid don’t often present themselves. Our politicians in Washington
have proven themselves to be unable or unwilling to tackle the money problems facing these
programs. Nature has presented us with a - hopefully - once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to
address the financial problems with these well-intentioned social programs.
Will America take advantage of this golden opportunity which
nature has presented to us? Senior citizens, think of it – a subsidized trip to China and/or
a subsidized ocean cruise. America, consider – a solvent Social Security system and health
care programs with lower costs. Only in America!
HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
While it’s easy to poke fun at the Coronavirus panic, we should
all keep in mind the reality of the situation. First, we should all use common sense and
take prudent precautions to restrict the spread of the disease and to minimize its impact.
The Corona Virus can be deadly. It can spread rapidly. There is currently no vaccine to
On the other hand, we should also take note of the facts that
the fatality rate of the disease is very low - a few percent - and that the total number
of people infected to date is low in comparison to the number infected with the annual flu.
Also, the number of Coronavirus deaths to date is much lower than the number of deaths
Early in February of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
reported that the flu had killed 10,000 in the U.S. this influenza
season. At least 19,000,000 people had come down with the flu in the U.S. with
180,000 ending up in the hospital. 
While there were 10,000 influenza deaths in the U.S. as of the
first week in February 2020, the CDC published the following numbers for the Coronavirus,
as of the first week in March 2020:
Total reported Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 1,629;
Total reported Coronavirus deaths in the U.S.: 41.
That’s 19,000,000 influenza cases Vs. 1,629 Coronavirus cases
and that’s 10,000 influenza deaths Vs. 41 Coronavirus deaths.
Since this data was published, the Coronavirus numbers have rapidly
increased here in the U.S. Still, it's improtant to maintain perspective while using common
sense and following reliable instructions. Let's remember that the flu season started in
late 2019 and has pretty much passed it's peak while Coronavirus in the U.S. did not take
root until February of 2020 and has yet to reach its peak.
In spite of the many reports to the contrary, the sky
is not falling and the end of the world is not near.
- Blame Congress for high health-care costs, The Economist,
2 September 2017.
- Social Security Is Not Going Bankrupt, but Don't Count on It Anyway,
Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool,
16 February 2020.
- Coronavirus: Separating facts from hype— and what’s the risk for older people?,
Liz Seegert, MarketWatch,
9 March 2020.
- Coronavirus patients with heart disease have a 10% chance of dying. Here's the
mortality rate for patients with various underlying health problems., Aria Bendix,
Business Insider, 29 February 2020.
- The flu has already killed 10,000 across US as world frets over coronavirus,
Jessica Bursztynsky, CNBC,
4 February 2020.
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S., Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, 13 March 2020.