Wednesday, September 09, 2009

They send you off to college, try to gain a little knowledge

Whenever people find out I'm a pharmacist (and that I work for an insurance company), they assume I have some grand plan for fixing health care. I usually tell them health care cannot be fixed...but that's not entirely true; more correctly, health care won't be fixed.

It won't be fixed, because nobody seems to know why it needs fixing. For the last month, I've heard the President talk about unsustainable cost increases. Okay, we want to fix health care to lower the prices of health care; that sounds reasonable to me. However, earlier in the summer, health care needed fixing because there are forty-something million uninsured people in this country. If we're still interested in helping out those forty-something million people, saving money just got a whole lot harder.

On that note, here are the 3 things I hope Obama says tonight:

1) "The Swiss do more than make good cheese."

Insurance coverage should be mandatory for everyone. I anticipate my health care costs to be under $500 next year. I would have to be pretty stupid to buy a health insurance policy that costs me $100/month--I'd be out $700 a year. Fortunately, I don't have to make that decision, because no insurance company would sell me a policy for $100/month. The insurance company has no way to know that I'm only going to cost them $500 next year; in fact, all their research indicates that I wouldn't buy that policy; only the guy who's going to cost them $6000 next year would pay for his own healthy people would rather risk it and go without insurance.

So, let's learn something from the Swiss. Make everyone buy insurance, subsidize those who cannot afford to pay. Insurance companies will be happy to issue these policies if they know that it won't be only sick people buying them.

2) "Your life is not worth fifty million dollars."

In addition to paying ungodly fees for malpractice insurance, your physician is forced to order less than necessary tests and perform less than necessary procedures all for the purpose of not having to stand in front of a jury to explain why he/she did not order said test or perform said procedure in the unlikely event that you end up dead. American juries are not fit to determine damages in malpractice lawsuits...or any type of personal injury lawsuit for that matter. Read about New Zealand, if you're bored. If you get injured in New Zealand, your disability payments are covered by the government. You cannot sue the offending party; the government will take care of punishing the offending party if anything illegal took place.

3) "Everything is rationed."

Full body scans were all the rage a few years ago when the economy was booming. The theory is good: have a radiologist look at your entire body, and get a head start on treating cancer, heart disease, or anything else that might be about to kill you. Insurance companies typically do not pay for these scans, mostly because there is no evidence to support that they are good for anything. The point is, if you had an unlimited supply of money, you could probably improve health care quite a bit. Sadly, money is not unlimited...if we spend it on health care, we can't spend it somewhere else. I happen to know of one particular class of middle schoolers that will be 10 times more likely to die in horrible toaster accidents this fall because their teacher has been fired.

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