So, what are the goals of health care reform? Some believe that the goals are just to rearrange the deck chairs. In my mind, we’re sailing on the Titanic; therefore, rearranging the deck chairs is not going to fix the problem. Instead, I think we need to take this opportunity to perform a comprehensive overhaul of our health care system. We must remember that our system developed over the last 100 years. It has developed mostly as a hodgepodge. There hasn’t been one person or one group of people who sat down and thought about how health care will be delivered.
Let’s guarantee health care for all. In my mind, universal coverage is the only way to get this done. This does not mean that everybody deserves or should be covered for everything. Instead, I do believe that office visits and hospitalizations need to be covered. Preventive medicine needs to be covered along with mental health care. Physical therapy and occupational therapy, prescriptions and dental care all need to be covered.
There has to be some mechanism to control costs. We’ve seen over the years that without cost controls medical costs skyrocket. Does every hospital need the latest CT scanner ?
Americans should be able to choose their own physician and their own hospital. Also, Americans need better data on what they are choosing. How good is that hospital, really? That data should be readily available. If you’re going to a surgeon for a hernia repair, what is his/her rate of recurrence?
We need to fix the problem concerning access to health care. Many patients complain about being unable to see a physician. When most doctors offices are open from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon and most people work from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon, no wonder there’s an access problem. We need clinics to be open earlier and stay open later. We need clinics open on the weekends.
Health care reform must include high-quality, coordinated health care. We have to have a mechanism to control medical errors. How do we decrease or eliminate hospital-acquired infections? How do we guarantee that we are not paying for procedures that have not been proven to be of benefit? These things need to be worked out in order to control costs. A patient who is in a car crash in northern Pennsylvania is currently without his medical records. His physicians are flying blind, as it were. We should be able to put a system in place where his physicians have timely access to his records even if he’s from southern Florida.
We have to do something about malpractice. There’s not a day that goes by that physicians don’t worry about malpractice. Many physicians practice defensive medicine, driving costs up and doesn’t necessarily add to the quality of medicine that they are delivering. We need to develop a malpractice system were patient grievances are compensated adequately and quickly. On the other hand, frivolous lawsuits also need to be handled with minimal costs to physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.
Finally, we have to fund the system in such a way that is fair to all Americans. Everyone should have to pay their fair share.
I believe that these are the correct goals for reforming our health care system. What are your thoughts?