There’s a reason why President Barack Obama was elected last November. It was not a fluke. He has the ability to explain things. He whittled down the whole healthcare problem to a little but more than a 30-second explanation.
See the President’s explanation here:
The president has a commanding knowledge of all the different permutations of how to fix healthcare. What I’ve been talking about on this blog is what I think is a simple, straightforward solution healthcare. Again, because I think this is critically important, we need to define our goals. I believe the goals of healthcare reform are to produce portable, efficient and cost-effective healthcare. If you look at the healthcare problem and come up with different goals then your solutions will probably be different than mine. I accept this.
In my mind, the best way to produce the desired outcome (portable, efficient and cost-effective healthcare) is to do the following:
- In 2007, Americans spent $2.2 trillion on health care. Of this 2.2 trillion, $700 billion was given to the health-insurance industry. If we take the $700 billion and use it to cover the 46 million Americans who are currently uninsured, we can do this and have plenty of money left over to repair other sectors of the healthcare industry. Take Medicare, Medicaid and other state and federal health care programs and roll them all into a single payer (government) system.
- We can control costs by paying primary care doctors and hospitals a lump sum of money at the beginning of every year to take care of a given population of patients. This will decrease the incentive for hospitals and/or doctors to see patients over and over again not because the patients need it but because they want the revenue. (The vast majority of doctors and hospitals are ethical but there are some bad apples.)
- We can control costs by negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. We can save billions of dollars by decreasing the amount that we spend on drugs. We can also save money by doing comparative studies. We need government-funded drug studies which would compare drug A to drug B. Also, to entice the pharmaceutical companies to participate and not oppose this measure, I think that drug patents should be increased from the current 20 years to 30 years. (Remember that the patent covers the time the drug is being developed and tested. So the effective patent time is probably somewhere around 7 to 12 years.) In this scenario I think the American people win by getting drugs at lower prices and pharmaceutical companies can recoup some of their losses through the extended patent time.
- If we develop a single payer system (government payer) then everyone, every American, is invested in all of our health. To put it another way, if I stay healthy, that will save you money. (Republicans should love this. This is personal responsibility that Republicans talk about all of the time.) Therefore, it is in our best interest to give people incentives to stay healthy. Their health care will cost us less and that’s good for everyone. Americans who are healthy and watch their weight should be rewarded for “good behavior.” Every other year, these Americans should get a rebate. Also, Americans who change their habits, who lose weight, who watched their diabetes and follow their doctor’s advice should also get a rebate. Now, besides the rebate for each of these categories can be negotiated but the principle is we should reward good behavior for the simple reason that good behavior saves us money.
- The government will need to negotiate prices for multiple types of Durable Medical Equipment. This would include things like hearing aids, wheelchairs, those scooters, x-ray equipment, CT scanners and titanium rods that are used to fix femur (thigh bone) fractures.
- Finally, we have some Americans that are incredibly smart and they know they want. You order your own test!! If a 25-year-old twists his or her ankle while rollerblading, they know they want an x-ray of their ankle, why can’t they get that without having to talk to a nurse and see a doctor? Why can’t they go to the emergency room and ask for an x-ray their ankle. Their ankle was x-rayed and within 30-60 minutes they are handed a written report by the radiologist. Then, if their ankle is broken, they can see the physician. If not, they take the responsibility for putting on an ace wrap if they would like to. Allow Americans to do this no more than five times a year so that no one abuses the system. Mothers that think their two-year-old baby has strep throat can take their child to the emergency room and simply go to the lab and get a rapid strep test. They can have their answer in less than five minutes. If the test is negative, the mother knows that she can just treat the symptoms, if she is comfortable with that. On the other hand, if the test is positive, the mother can then see the physician. Why can we make this or some variation of this become a reality.
We are incredibly innovative. It is possible for us to develop a system that is paid for by the government, that is cost-effective, portable and efficient. Let’s be innovative, what are your thoughts?