Monday, December 29, 2008

Isn't health care supposed to be for the patient?

An interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal talks about the costs of possible countrywide health coverage without focusing on what Americans really want and need.

United Healthcare offers our family low co-pays for doctor's visits, even of specialists, hospital coverage and drugs, and covers catastrophic health insurance, without coverage for teeth or eye-care or cosmetic surgeries. Usually, it's fine.

But what if we do someday have huge expenses? We would want to have them covered.

How efficient can a country be where a third of the population cannot afford basic coverage? By now, it should be clear that there are huge personal and business tragedies that should have been prevented. Costly emergency visits, mortgage defaults and personal bankruptcy and business failures are often caused by out-of-control health care expenses in America. This reduces the attractiveness of the country inside and outside.

Preventive health care is a good idea with incentives for keeping in shape still to be dreamed up. If physician business tax costs are lowered and insurance agent costs are close to eliminated, health care should return to doctors with simplification and computerization of medical care where possible to cut costs.

We would all like to be able to choose doctors according to our own preferences (usually determined by their competence, personality, availability when needed and location). But who wants medical insurance agents meddling inside of that relationship?

At the present time some doctors over-prescribe expensive procedures that could have been prevented by having advice from a better doctor. Patients are better off being protected from those procedures, and health care costs could be reduced as well.

Efficiencies in the health care field could be internationalized by constantly checking the experiences of other countries that have been successful in satisfying their populations while lowering rates of sickness, long hospital stays and death.

Making appropriate health care readily available, and protecting the sickest and their families makes good political sense, and should help the bottom line of American businesses, governments, schools and non-profits.

Incentivized peer accountability for the most expensive procedures (prior to taking money from patients) and inexpensive coverage would go far to alleviate patient stress. Health care efficiency should eventually translate to monetary cost advantages for all Americans.

The article above accentuates the negatives without emphasizing the obvious, that all Americans deserve good health care. How much longer can America ignore it?

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