A Concerned Citizen’s Opinion on Health Care

I am not a certified expert on health care or health insurance. I am not political. I am not a doctor. But I am an American Citizen, I pay for health insurance and I use health care. Based on the very high cost of health care in this country, the rising costs of health care insurance and the proposed solutions that are coming out of our nation’s capital (from both sides of the aisle), I think I am as much of an expert on health care and health insurance as our politicians are.

The fundamental problems Americans are really having are with health care costs, not health insurance. Why is health insurance being regulated and the actual cost of health care not addressed at all?

The fact that an entire industry (insurance) has been created to act as a replacement for affordable health care costs should clearly indicate the real issue is the cost of health care, not the cost or availability of health insurance.

Additionally, the fact that health insurance is a multi-billion industry and one of the most profitable sectors in our economy would seem to indicate that there is plenty of money that Americans have that could go toward paying actual health care costs-especially if the costs themselves were more in line and not so over inflated (yeah, I know the party line that doctors have to charge more because of medical tort-I’ll get to that).

But, without getting into the economics of the statement above, let’s assume that we can’t afford health care. If that is the case, what is the cause?

Let’s separate the problem into two parts*, 1. Cost of treatment and 2. Cost of drugs. So we have two industries here, the Medical community and the Pharmaceutical industry.

Let’s address the Medical Community. Based on simple economics one can deduce that a large part of the problem of medical cost is a matter of supply and demand. There are not enough doctors to take care of the population, thus medical professionals charge more simply because they can.

According to an April 2010 article in the WSJ “Experts warn there won’t be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law (Obama Care). At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges…”

If the government is compelled to intervene in the nation’s business for the sake of saving lives, then a better governmental solution to the health care dilemma is to create programs that promote the making of more doctors and placing them where they are most needed.

This could be a voluntary program such as paying for (very) qualified individual’s medical educations. These individuals would get to choose certain specialties (not ones like cosmetic surgery) that were offered by the program guidelines and, upon graduation, would have to “work off” their educational costs by practicing in select parts of the country where they were most needed for a finite period of time. The details of such a program would have to be worked out, but as a solution it directly addresses a large part of the problem, i.e., a shortage of doctors – a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the coming years.

Over the period of one or two (at most) decades we could have enough physicians to not only adequately care for the population, but enough doctors that “supply and demand” would bring medical fees in line with what the general population could afford. Some doctors may have to give up their Porsches’ and limit the number of vacations they take, but they shouldn’t be in that profession if they are only money motivated anyway.

The other major cause of exorbitant health care costs are medications-drugs-pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies constitute the most profitable industry in America.

The pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying efforts are unparalleled. Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer organization, estimates that the drug companies have well over 300 paid lobbyists on Capitol Hill – more than one lobbyist for every two members of the U.S. Congress. They spend more than any other industry in political advertising. They spend tens of millions of dollars each year for political advertising to prevent Congress from passing meaningful prescription drug reform.

If there was an area where the government should intervene in order to save lives and in the name of the welfare of this nation, it is in the pharmaceutical industry’s business practices.

These are just my thoughts on the matter; I have never heard these ideas intelligently addressed by any politician in all the endless droning regarding health care that has been going on for the last two years. I know there may be some gaps in what I’ve written and there may be much better solutions than what I quickly jotted down. But the point of this is that we (you) need to really hold our government’s feet to the fire and not be sheep. We need our representatives to really confront the issues, not just glibly parrot talking points that either do nothing or make matters worse.

Do your own research, look into matters that concern and affect you personally. Don’t let the talking heads on T.V. solely shape your view of the world. If something concerns you, look into it and then write about it.

*Medical tort is a third factor that will have to be addressed to reform medical costs. My opinion on this is simple. Great doctors don’t kill or maim people. If we only had great doctors there would be no need for lawsuits. Instead of suing doctors for negligence, simply create a system that takes licenses quickly away from bad doctors. If a doctor kills a patient or ruins the patient’s life through negligence, then he/she loses their license-this will ensure doctor’s standards are always high and that bad doctors get weeded out of the system.