Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Let’s Have a Rational Talk about Healthcare

The rage healthcare creates keeps me out of the debate most of the time. I research what companies will make money from this bill because that is my job. However, I am a member of this nation and feel it is time to place my 2 cents into the firestorm.

My attention to healthcare was sparked by how much the United States spends on healthcare. The United States spends more as a percentage of GDP than any other nation in the world. In 2007, the United States spent 16% of our GDP on healthcare; compare that to 11% by France and 9% by the United Kingdom. However, spending is not the problem, the problem is the low quality of our healthcare system. The US came in at 16 of healthcare quality in the world, this indicates a systematic problem.

If the problem is a system issue, then identifying the main cause of troubles is imperative. Government involvement in healthcare is not new. The government officials that started the involvement process were trying to help yet the system got worse. There is nothing wrong with trying to create a better system but if the government solution was to throw money at healthcare in the name of helping the poor, then they planned poorly. The result of government involvement is a nightmare of perverse incentives that has turned the system away from the patient. How much money a hospital can get out of a patient is the most important aspect of most doctors. Add in the fear of lawsuits, defensive medicine, and no competition between hospitals you get an extremely expensive healthcare system.

Monetary expense is only one type of cost this nation pays. The number of people that die from hospital born disease and mistakes is staggering. 40,000 people died last year from staph infections they acquired in the hospital; that is unacceptable. In addition, government involvement in colleges has lead to an exploding cost of college and this includes medical schools. There are not enough doctors graduating from medical school to replace retiring professionals. There is a 100% chance of a shortage of doctors in this country which will drive up costs in ways I cannot imagine.

All of these issues convince me reform is/was needed. The argument that liberals are trying to take over our country and ruin the best healthcare system in the world is a ludicrous statement. The system was already terrible and socialist.

Healthcare reform did address some much needed issues but failed to fix any of the messed up incentives, tort-reform, medical college reform, or quality issues. The bill focused on most of the wrong problems that would have addressed cost and quality. Instead, politicians argued over uninsured and government insurance plans. This nation already had universal coverage, if you walk in you get treated.

I would have hoped Republicans would have tried to get cost control issues into the reform bill rather than saying no to reform. Without line-item veto Obama would have had to sign a bill that included universal coverage and cost/quality control laws. What did we end up with? A bill that did nothing but add more people into a crappy system.

Reform is needed, and both parties have to address the real issues.

Souces: The Economist, March 20th 2010

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