From December 15th through the 31st, Barack Obama is asking Americans to come up with ideas on how to fix the health care system. Here’s the report about that from the Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/05/AR2008120503322.html?hpid=topnews
Here’s what’s astonishing about that. They’re not starting out with a question, such as “Do we have a problem?” They’re starting out with a statement. “We have a problem, what do we do?”
Here’s what’s even more astonishing: our President-elect is giving us homework! He’s suggesting that during the holidays, as people get together and have more time to think, that maybe this could be a topic to discuss. This seems to me to be no less than an attempt to engage people in their own government. After decades of top-down government, culminating in the 8-year long monarchy we’ve just endured, this is practically a revolution. Sign me up.
So I’m wading in. And it won’t take long. What’s wrong with the health care system is the profit motive. I’m not opposed to profit. I’m employed in the business world. What we do is sell stuff, and charge as much for as we can without shooting ourselves in the feet. In other words, you can price yourself out of business. But health care is not a commodity like computers or shoes or cell phones.
The whole health care system should be not-for-profit. The argument is, if you make the system non-profit, then no one will do it any more and then where would we be? Not true. Not-for-profit doesn’t mean you can’t make any money at it.
The big players in the health care system are doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies. If you don’t pay the people in those fields well, then it would probably be true that fewer would go into those fields. Plus, all of them have to have a way to have some sort of reserve, whether it’s just for the occasional rainy day or to do research or to pay for catastrophic occurrences.
But when you make huge profits and split them up amongst yourselves, rather than putting it into research or treatment, that’s thievery. There is a lot of finger-pointing amongst the groups I named above, and let me jump in there too. The villain, in more ways than you can count, is the insurance industry. All you have to do to verify that is this: pay health insurance premiums your whole life, then make a claim.
Actually I’m simplifying, because that has not been my exact experience. But for the most part, once you need them, the insurance company’s job is to try to find a way not to pay you. Because that’s how they make money. Denying your claims, making it difficult, and hoping you’ll die before they have to pay.
The solution is simple: take profit out of the equation. And how to do that? No need to reinvent the wheel. Countries throughout the world are operating workable and compassionate health care systems. Use their model.