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Hopefully, Moore’s movie will spark honest discussions about the US health care system, and how to fix and improve it. US health care is great at acute emergencies, or trauma care, but it is less desirable for chronic degenerative diseases. |
We have a three-headed monster in America:
1) Hospital and Doctors
2) Prescription Drug Industry
3) Insurance Companies
All three do not necessarily work for the benefit of Americans. Our HMO, Health Maintenance Organization, is really a misnomer. Each of these three industries, represent multi-billion, and in the drug industry’s case, a trillion dollar industry, so needless to say, they have clout on K Street and Wall Street. These industries not only have deep pockets, but many lobbyists to preserve Status Quo, so each can help the other make more and more profits.
I think it will realistically take Executive and Legislative support to change the paradigm, to realize it is cheaper to prevent diseases, maintain health, and not make health care a for profit enterprise. There is no profit in curing someone, but large profits in treating someone and preferably with a lifetime of maintenance drugs. A hospital can charge $100,000 for a bypass, so why should they bother to educate their patients, to adopt a healthier lifestyle, healthier diet, exercise, take certain supplements, etc. to prevent diseases or become a bypass candidate, when it is so much more profitable to bypass the patient, and then keep him or her, on a lifetime of expensive drugs, so the drug companies can make more obscene profits?
The problem is self-perpetuating because it rewards the wrong outcome. I remember reading a story about a small town in Europe where the villagers got together and decided with the town’s doctor, to pay this country doctor only for the number of people he kept healthy, and he treated the sick people with diseases for free. This sounds like a very common sense approach that is consistent with human nature, as you reward the outcome you want (a healthy population).
The other practical reason to reform our system is because the current system is killing corporate competitiveness in this global economy. We have companies like GM whining about the outrageous cost of health care premiums for its employees, and rightly so. I read a statistic, which I cannot confirm whether it is true or not, but that administrative cost in a typical HMO is over 40% of cost. If true, it is no surprise that health insurance premiums are so high, rendering many companies to de-unionize, to hire part-timers who don’t get health insurance, and outsource to other countries to avoid the health care cost altogether.
Our leadership needs to realize that health care should not be for profit. It is cheaper to have a single pay Universal Health Care system, reducing the administrative cost, and helping US industries be more competitive since that would at least remove one of the cost items – employee health insurance.
Therefore, the three-headed monster, the for-profit system in the US is not a system you want to copy. It rewards the wrong outcome, treating and reacting to diseases with usually a lifetime of expensive maintenance drugs and procedures, instead of focused on proactively preventing diseases in the first place. Reward the wrong things, and you get more wrong things, as it is just human nature. Reward health, and you will get more of it, like that town in Europe. Unfortunately, I don’t remember that little town’s name, but what a common sense template to copy, as you pay for maintaining health, not treating diseases.