Get Government out of Healthcare
and ‘Put the People Back in Charge’
By Bob “Nugie” Neugebauer
Reprinted with permission by the Gem State Patriot
The solution to fixing healthcare in America is not going to be solved by having insurance companies cross state lines because even if we did allow them to cross, what assurance is there that costs would come down and choices would increase? You would also have to standardize rules across the board so that rules in each state were the same. Good luck with that. Remember that insurance companies are in business to make money not to serve the people.
If you want to reform healthcare put the money and the decisions back into the hands of the individuals thru health savings accounts with high limits. Take the middleman out of the equation for everyday medical events and let insurance companies provide catastrophic insurance. We already know that paying cash for medical services can be negotiated down to very low levels because there is no middleman or paperwork involved.
The appealing part of HSA’s is that they encourage individuals to stay healthy and to be cost-conscious. We should also incentivize HSA’s’s so that money that is not used to pay medical expenses would yours to keep with the exception that any money taken from your HSA account that is not used to pay medical expenses is taxed when withdrawn. The theory is therefore that consumers will be more cautious when spending their own money compared to spending money indirectly through their employer-provided insurance or their private health insurance provider. According to a national health insurance broker, they found that 45% of individuals purchasing an HSA-qualified high deductible plan earned less than $50,000 a year which helps the middle class save and have choice in their healthcare at the same time. The government needs to get out of the healthcare business except for the truly indigent.
Healthcare is always thought of in terms of sickness when we should really be thinking in terms of wellness. It is a lot cheaper to keep people healthy than to care for them when they get sick. The problem is we incentivize people to not worry about getting sick by having third parties like employers and government sponsored programs pay the bill. This will only continue to escalate costs at the discretion of the provider as there is no incentive to control the spending. When the government is involved and imposes cost controls on how much they will pay doctors all it does is force doctors to drop out of the government controlled programs making it more difficult for patients to find services. However, if the decisions are in the hands of the patients the third parties are taken out of the equation and costs will come down. When the individual is in charge we will get back to a free market.
To provide for catastrophic healthcare needs you can form healthcare purchasing co-operatives. They can secure health insurance coverage for the entire group at substantial savings because there is less risk for the insurance company when they insure larger groups as the risk is spread out. The solutions are not that difficult but you have the insurance companies, Big Pharma and the medical associations who like the sickness scenario instead of the wellness scenario because it is more profitable. They also like third party payers as it is easier for them to justify higher prices.
Let’s get the government out of the healthcare business that it was never supposed to be in. Look back to 1965 which was the inception of government involvement with the advent of Medicare and Medicaid which increased demand while restricting the supply of doctors and hospitals. Healthcare prices jumped to twice the rate of inflation and we repeated that mistake with Obamacare. Why is it that we never learn from our mistakes and continue to do the same things over and over again? The reason is that the lobbyists for the insurance companies, medical associations and Big Pharma don’t really want to change the system, they would prefer to keep everything status quo so the profits keep rolling in.
The U.S. is estimated to face a shortage of 90,000 doctors by the year 2025.
We still haven’t solved the problem of enough primary care physicians but with the growth of our aging population, it is predicted we will also have a real shortage in surgeons. This is another reason that we should be pushing for more integrative care. We should be using the talents of physicians who practice complementary and alternative medicine which has proven very effective in controlling chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases which are accounting for more of our medical costs each year. In 2001, NIH National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that annual autoimmune disease treatment costs were greater than $100 billion. This does not include the cost to employers for lost time at work. If it cost $100 billion in 2001, can you imagine how much it would cost in today’s dollars?
(What is INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE? –IM often referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies conventional and complementary/alternative.)
We need to allow more health freedom by giving patients freedom of choice in what type of doctor or treatment they want to receive and that can only happen if they have the ability to control payment for services. The decisions for a person’s healthcare should be in their hands not in the hands of some government bureaucracy with 20,000 pages of regulations or an insurance company that is only worried about profits. We also need to start judging and paying physicians of all types for the outcomes they produce for their patients. This would provide the incentive needed to put the patient’s health first and put them in the hands of those best qualified to treat them to get positive outcomes.
Medicine/healthcare has become big business in this country. Treating patients for cancer alone is estimated to reach $175 billion by 2020 but the problem is that outcomes from traditional treatments with chemo, radiation, and surgery have barely improved in the 41 years since the war on cancer began. Costs keep soaring but results don’t come close to keeping pace. We need to try a different way of practicing medicine that is not under the control of the AMA or the FDA. We need to change our thinking and give integrative medicine an opportunity to help solve the current crisis and the larger one expected down the road.
Wellness programs are the real key to reducing healthcare costs, just ask any of the large corporations who have instituted these programs in their companies. The successes are formidable in that the number of hours that employees take off because of illness have been reduced so significantly that it has more than paid for the cost of their wellness programs. As a testament to this success, we see wellness companies growing at over 8% a year. We even find the Medicaid advantage policies offered to seniors are now including gym memberships at a nominal cost. This encourages older people to exercise on a regular basis and improves their overall health.
If we’re going to reform our healthcare system lets think out of the box for a change and start by putting the patient back in charge of healthcare decisions instead of a third party. Not only will we see costs come down but we will find better outcomes in this process.