This whole healthcare debate in the United States is completely off base. Does anyone really think people should not have access to healthcare when they need it? Do people really believe others should be left in the dust if they truly do not have enough money to pay for all their medical care? It is a complicated issue, but the politicians focus on the complications and minutia instead of the solutions. However, there are basic issues that I think everyone can agree upon that will lead us to solutions to the complicated issues.
It is completely ridiculous for politicians to argue that it is against the rights of individuals to be required to have medical insurance of some kind. The same people will not discuss that those that do have insurance are required to subsidize these individuals anyway with our taxes and insurance premiums. To improve the health of this country, we need to do a better job at prevention, early interventions, and screening to deal with disease processes early. Instead of waiting until something is a major problem, and much more costly, we should be providing early interventions.
For the bean counters, a big problem with this approach is you do not see the results until many years down the road. Our expectation of “instant gratification” does not work in this setting. Even worse, the investment that needs to happen will not show results on the quarterly reports in the stock market which makes CEO’s even more averse to an investment in the future health of individuals.
I am not saying that giving everyone access to free healthcare is the way to go either. Healthcare needs be a partnership between the system and its users. The current healthcare legislation completely missed the boat of a great opportunity to make an impact on disease in general. We know obesity is bad. We know smoking is bad. We know high blood sugar is bad. We know high blood pressure is bad. We also know that people need to take responsibility for their healthcare and you can’t just force it down their throats. Just providing healthcare does not make all people healthier. You need to build in incentives so they become partners in their care. So, if we are going to require healthcare for all, why not reduce the costs for people that quit smoking, reduce their body mass index to an acceptable level, take care of their diabetes and hypertension. These are easy things to measure. Give them financial incentives to improve in these areas by mandating a reduction in premiums. In the end, it is much less costly for all of us…and we are a healthier society.