My friend, Huli, is right. The biggest problem with healthcare in America is cost, and it’s a whopper. In 2008, $2.3 trillion was spent on healthcare by all sources in our Country. And the amount grows higher each year. In this Part of Healthcare Ideas From Us, Huli and I will share our thoughts, and Riley’s, about fixing the cost problem while maintaining quality.
Huli, what are the consequences of our growing healthcare costs?
Huli: The increasing price tag is making healthcare unaffordable for many, even the Federal Government. The CBO reports that the biggest threat to the stability of our economy in the coming decade is the amount budgeted for Medicare and Medicaid. And that doesn’t include the staggering cost of ObamaCare.
Sidney: Let’s talk about why healthcare is so expensive. Advances in medical technology account for 50% of the increase over the last 10 years. This is unlike other industries where technology reduces cost through improved efficiency. What’s different about healthcare? Many of the new procedures require expensive, cutting-edge drugs and equipment, and specialized medical skills.
Huli: Other factors boost cost, too. A profit motive in overdrive. An overburdened delivery system that will only worsen with our growing population. And, too many of our increasing numbers with bad health habits and lawyers on speed dial. Then there’s the waste of administrative inefficiencies and the opportunities for fraud it creates. And, like other industries, inflation raises costs over time.
Sidney: Let’s face facts. Healthcare will always have a cost angle unless we’re willing to dumb-down the technology and the people who administer it. How many of us want “free” healthcare from humans who graduated at the bottom of their medical school classes? And who will raise her hand for rationed care?
Huli: But, what about Rational Care? My blue pencil can slash the fat to make treatment affordable while keeping high-quality care. Like, cutting administrative waste and fraud by using information technology infrastructures to modernize that ugly step-sister of healthcare. And motivating us to eat healthy diets and follow good exercise programs.
Sidney: Rational Care must also scrap the costly procedures used only as check-box defenses in malpractice actions. Shouldn’t medical science decide what procedures and medications are needed rather than personal injury attorneys paid by the case? If greed wasn’t good even for Gordon Gekko, we sure don’t want it in healthcare.
Huli: Similarly, there’s no demonstrated correlation between high cost and the quality of care in our system. How about incentive bonuses for developing superior treatment regimens delivered at low cost?
Sidney: And the biggest change of all? Turn all hospitals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical houses into tax-exempt non-profits requiring them to plow their former profits back into reducing costs. Let Rational Care go a long way to financing itself.
Huli: We still want to highly compensate the people who make healthcare happen, because we want to attract the best to do their best. But, at the same time, it’s obscene for companies to profit from the ills of others.
Sidney: Rational Care will require oversight by an independent, qualified board, with judicial review as a last resort. And the board members must be appointed by a competent panel of experts, with politicians nowhere in sight.
Those are our broad-brush ideas. Thanks for letting us share them.
See you on the left-side.