"Ultimately there's going to be (only) some number of these we can afford" says Dr. Cram. Dr. Cram is not talking about Hellfire missiles, unmanned drones, attack helicopters or other weapons of mass destruction the world's largest producer of them sells to various regimes around the world. The doctor is talking about knee replacements.
As people live longer and unfortunately get larger due to the industrial food industry, knee replacements are becoming more common. Medicare patients account for less than half of the 600,000 knee replacements in a year according to the Wall Street Journal, 243,000 in 2010 up from 93,000 in 1991.
The procedure costs about $15, 000 and the total Medicare costs for replacements for people of all ages is presently about $9 billion. Total medicare spending is estimated at $550 billion according to the Kaiser Foundation.
The problem is that apart from growing older with pain, more older people want the procedure so they can remain active and with the advances in technology, more younger seniors want it as improvements in the devices allows them to last longer, some 20 years or more. People are just plain selfish aren't they.
Because US capitalism cannot afford such luxuries, the above doctor believes that as the procedure is curbed and limited a "really contentious debate" will take place, no doubt between various sectors of the capitalist class, insurance companies, manufacturers, the hospital business and the sickness industrial complex in general, as to who should get the knee replacement and who will have to do without.
On reading this I hear that an entrepreneur and vulture capitalist has come up with a fantastic idea. Crutches. Yes, plastic crutches (the wooden ones cost more). He first suggested simply amputating old people's decrepit lower extremities above the knee would solve the problem but this would be expensive, even more expensive than knee replacement surgery.
The vulture capitalist, Seemore Cash says that what crutches will do is allow old people to move around, shop, go downtown whatever. Their legs can be used at whatever level of use they may be at and when they become completely useless, they can just hang there---it's the solution to costly and wasteful public money being spent on these knee replacements and builds upper body strength so it's healthier.
"We have to make sacrifices to help our economy survive" says Cash, "..but this is not even a sacrifice, just an innovative way of allowing people to remain standing with the help of a device that costs much less."
"Innovation, this is what capitalism is all about..." Cash adds, " ...and when I patent this I will donate 50% of the profits from sales to charity.
Isn't capitalism swell.