Politics of Fixing Healthcare… or, A run for your money.

8 04 2008

I note a lote of talk about our “Broken” healthcare system from the current crop of Presidential candidates. Some advocate a form of socialized healthcare, similar to Canada or England’s. I don’t think that socialized healthcare is the answer to this problem, and it more than likely would create more problems than we at first realize. Problems in service, quality, AND in the research and development of new techniques and medications. You see, there is no “catch all” solution to the problem, …but the first step is defining the problem. It’s not healthcare in and of itself that’s the problem; it’s the costs involved.

There seems to be a lot of political posturing on this matter. One must ask, if the problem is costs, what cost cutting measures have the candidates proposed? Universal coverage? A national HMO? What does this REALLY do? That limits direct costs. So? What are the first places someone looks to when forced to cut costs? Services. So you don’t get the same quality. Jobs. They involve less people in the process. Research and Development. They shift available resources to receive the highest return, which would apply here as to make up for lost profits. Less would be spent toward future developments in the industry. That’s just basic economics.

In searching out the real answers to this problem the obvious starting point would be the causes. First and foremost underlying all this is the liability issues. A tremendous amount of our healthcare dollars goes toward the liability costs involved. So much so thart it has affected entire fields of medicine. It’s getting harder and harder to find doctors that will do certain procedures that have a generally higher degree of risk because of the high cost to insure themselves against the liability involved. We know that many doctors will no longer deliver babies. Some hospitals no longer even have neonatal units. Those are just a couple of examples. To attack the costs, which is why our healthcare industry is “broken” in the first place, one must address this issue.

A good starting point would be with medicine. Face it, industries are in business to make profits, and the production of medicine is a highly profitable industry. Why then, one might ask, do we need to do anything about cutting costs for such a profitable industry? Because the production of medicines comes with enormous liability costs. And as the Drug Companies are in business to make a profit, those enormous cost are passed on to the consumer. To cut the cost of medications we must cut the cost of the liability involved with their manufacture, sale, and use. As an industry that is regulated through the Food and Drug Administration, with years of independent testing done in most cases before approval, one of the first cost cutting measures might be to use this FDA approvasl as a limit of liability. Especially as far as punitive damages are concerned.

To reduce the high cost of our insurance one must reduce the risks. The main “risk” to we consumers is the high costs of medical procedures and medications, which after all is the reason why we need insurance in the first place.To reduce the costs involved with providing those medical procedures and medications you must reduce the liability costs. Reducing the liability costs to providers reduces the cost to insurers, which in turn reduces cost to the consumer, or policyholder, if you will. Sounds simple enough. Yes, and no. There are several “Buts” involved.

Certainly consumers deserve protection, but there should be some good faith limits to the liability of meds by such approval, especially in the punitive areas. People harmed deserve to be made ‘whole’ of course. Actual costs can be huge. Injuries and wrongs should be compensated and corrected. But it shouldn’t be a pathway to vast wealth. Too often those large judgements end up obstructing others seeking help, reducing services, or increasing costs. In the past we’ve seen valuable medications pulled from the shelves due to the potential of lawsuits and the high costs they might bring. We’ve even seen the misuse of medicines cost the industry huge amounts… remember phen-phen?

We depend on insurance to cover the cost. As a cost savings measure the insurance industry now often limits procedures and services. Tort reform isn’t an easy sell, however, because of its effect on trial lawyers and the strength of the legal communities involvement with the legislative process. But if its true cost cutting we the people want done in our healthcare industry this is a must. It may not be a cure all, but it is a cure-a-lot.

Also, one should note, that as we point to England and Canada, and the other countries with socialized healthcare, they themselves are one of the reasons our healthcare here in America is so high. The companies in those countries are still in it for the money… and lost profits there are made up for here. Recouped through increasing our costs for those same meds.

Fixing healthcare here really isn’t such a hard of a problem as we’re led to believe. Its the getting those standing in the way of fixing it to move that is the hard part. It involves powerful peoples piece of the pie, that’s the problem.

-Al

PS: Just as an example of the way lawsuits in general have gone “over the top”, the amounts of the compensation sought by Katrina related lawsuits is over a quadrillion dollars. A figure, I do believe, that would be hundreds of times our countries annual budget.

(I think a quadrillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000.00 )

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One response

8 04 2008
Rex

thank you for the link, will return the favor ASAP.

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