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What Healthcare System Could Work? A Universal Healthcare System Will Not Work!

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

The solution should be pretty clear to all following my blog. I advocate the American way! I believe a consumer market driven system with government making rules for the benefit of all members of the society. When one stakeholder takes advantage of another stakeholder to the harm of the other stakeholder the government has to intercede.

Richard Swersey Columbia College Class of 1959 has a college degree in the ability to think! He also has a post graduate mining degree and masters of business administration. He wrote “You referenced Adam Smith in your blog on dirty coal plants. People need to be reminded that: (1) there is a large section of “Wealth of Nations” entitled “The Role of the Sovereign”. Even Adam Smith recognized that the market can’t do everything; and (2) there has never been a time in recorded history where commerce (or markets, or industry) was totally free of government intervention.”

I made the same point in the blog on the TXU proposed dirty coal plants. Adam Smith’s treatise also applies to the healthcare system. The function of government is to promote civility (civil right) for the benefit of all and not to build bureaucracies that can not possibly work effectively.

Dick is absolutely correct. The function of government in a democracy should be to function for the people by the people. The operative words are for the people and not to the disadvantage of the people.

Entrepreneurship and obtaining a competitive advantage is the engine that drives innovation in America. Our problem in medicine right now is some the facilitator stakeholders have large vested interests they need to protect. They are very busy protecting their vested interest by various political means. Unfortunately government is not acting for the benefit of the people. The advantaged stakeholders are so short sighted that they can not see that the system they are protecting is falling apart right in front of their eyes. In fact, it is about to blow up. We, the primary stakeholders (patients and physicians) can not see what does not hurt us. We are waiting for the Katrina effect. The mentality of what we can not see can not hurt us has to stop. We have to act know and demand change.

In my view price transparency and the consumer (patient) being in control of their own healthcare dollar can go a long way to transform medical services into a competitive market place.
Some of the insurance companies are talking a good game. Aetna has feigned price transparency in Cincinnati. They published only the price of the top thirty procedures for customers that bought HSAs. This is good start but never expanded to my knowledge. I called this blog Another Smoke Screen.

Wal-Mart made an innovative advance with its generic drug initiative. They are charging $4 for a thirty day supply of generic drugs. They have 340 drugs in the formulary. Physicians feel comfortable using some generic drugs. They also want to help their patients. Patients can also demand generic drugs. Most physicians will use generic drugs if there is not a clear cut difference between the generic and brand name medication.

Wal-Mart can not keep the drugs in stock. They also can not keep people out of the store. Wal-Mart is not losing money on the drugs either. The result will be an increase in net profit to Wal-Mart and a consumer driven market benefit for the patient. It will also force brand name drugs to come down in price. Wal-Mat’s initiative will created a clear market driven economy for buying drugs.

Who needs Medicare Part D and its $10 co pay along with its ominous $2200 doughnut? Wal-Mart is also setting up competitive price wars among CVS, Walgreens Rite Aid. Wal-Mart has good chance of winning because it has the mentality to engage in these kinds of innovative programs. The CVSs will get there as it works its way through their hierarchical bureaucracy. The end result will probably be too little too late for CVS.

The most of the uninsured who could buy insurance have had no choice but to not buy insurance.
They have chosen take their chances. When they get sick someone has to pay or not get paid. This is the point. It gets painful and costly for all the stakeholders. The Canadian model of Universal Health Care with a single party payer does not work. The costs rise, access to care is restricted and patients die.

The main question is how do we fix the problems. We have to exercise some common sense. We need to be equitable. The vested interest empires (facilitator stakeholders) have to start to understand that our most precious possession is our health and not their profit. A healthy nation is a strong the nation. They have to stop fight the Repair of the Healthcare System.

Price transparency, reform DRG on cost and not charges are very important. We must stop the bonus to hospitals or insurance companies for supposed cost overruns at the end of the year. We must provide incentive for disease management training to all patients with chronic disease. We must make the patient responsible for their healthcare and healthcare dollar in a price transparent environment. We must motivate the patient to care for their chronic disease by rewarding prevention of complications of disease.

We must eliminate hospital and insurance company administrative waste. We must neutralize defensive medical practice by malpractice reform. We must revolutionize the adjudication of claims system to a system of instant payment.

We must provide and institute an EHR universally that can measure outcomes. The outcomes we must measure are the medical outcomes. The medical outcomes must be relational to the financial outcomes and patient and physician input as to the value of the outcome.

We need to start getting serious about all of these issues in unison. We have to concentrate on the cost of complications of chronic disease. We must create financial incentives for preventative services. We have to teach the patient the “Professor of their Chronic Disease”.

We must motivate the patients to be responsible for their chronic care. If they are not they will have a financial loss as well as a medical loss. We must put the patients in control of their healthcare dollar. I believe if we did all of this our healthcare system would not be in trouble. All of this can be accomplished with the Ideal Medical Savings Account. The structure of the current HSA system will not accomplish all of these key initiatives

If the government wanted to subsidize something it would be the purchase of the ideal medical savings accounts for all the uninsured who could not afford to buy insurance. This would eliminate all the waste in Medicaid. The concept of universal healthcare with the government as a single party payer is a sham because it does not address any of these important initiatives.

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