When we go to a doctor or any medical treatment facility we have a right to expect a certain level of quality in the care we receive. We expect and have a right to expect that the doctor or medical treatment facility will prevent or cure our ailments or, at the very least, to alleviate the suffering from the symptoms even if a cure is not available. If the level of quality and service that we have a right to expect is not met we should have the right to withhold payment. If we have insurance we should have the right to call on our insurance company to withhold payment until the doctor or medical treatment facility meets their responsibility as with any other service provider. As long as the insurance company is willing to pay whatever the provider wishes to charge the price of healthcare is going to skyrocket.
That's right, as long as the insurance companies continue to overpay for goods and services, the costs, the insurance premiums, are bound to rise. That money is coming out of my pocket and your pocket and your neighbors pocket. The many companies that provide healthcare for their employees pass the cost of their increased premiums along to the consumer by raising the price of their products. Many companies, particularly small businesses, will deny their employees healthcare to maintain a competitive edge. So as you can see, clearly, people without health insurance cost us all.
Here are some solutions to the escalating cost of healthcare for your consideration. There should be tax allowances to companies that provide health insurance to their employees. There should be tax deductions for individuals for their cost for health insurance.
The government should provide for wellness clinics in neighborhoods where there are the more likely to be poor people and working poor. These clinics can be supported by government funds, insurance payments from those who have some kind of insurance, payments on a sliding scale for those that can afford to pay some small amount, private, philanthropic and corporate, contributions and volunteer time. Wellness clinics would provide for less expensive early treatment for illness in a more affordable venue than hospitals.
Some people may ask where are we supposed to get the doctors and nurses for these clinics? First there will be a few caring medical professionals who would be willing to work for less to serve this population. Then there can be scholarships, fellowships and grants provided in exchange for a commitment of three or four years at the clinics before entering private practice.
Train and license former military medics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Registered Nurses(RN) to treat and diagnose under the supervision of a Medical Doctor(MD). These people are capable, or can train, to diagnose diseases, treat minor cuts scrapes and bruises, treat minor and early onset illnesses and even perform minor surgical procedures.
Allow large government agencies and private insurance carriers to negotiate the costs of service, medication and medical equipment. I have observed that the electronic revolution which began with the invention of the silicon transistor in the '40s through the computer revolution to today has had a large impact on medical equipment. Medical equipment has become more compact, more portable, more efficient and more economical. Yet the market price has exploded. The cost has become more expensive. Why is that? It is because the insurance companies are willing to pay whatever the manufacturers want to charge. It is because the insurance companies and the providers care little about those who cannot afford their high costs and those that can afford it with difficulty won't join together and refuse to accept their exploitation.
Doctor and medical treatment facilities must be held accountable as is any service provider. Under the current system doctors and hospitals are paid for their service no matter what they do, or don't do. Any other service provider can be held accountable if they fail to deliver promised or implied quality service.
I support free enterprise. I believe in a free market economy. However, rampant capitalism leads to excesses and abuses. The healthcare and the health insurance industry is just such a situation. Since these industries either fail or refuse to regulate themselves then it becomes incumbent upon our government to exert regulations on behalf of our citizens and consumers.
This approach will serve to lower healthcare costs, remove bad doctors from practice and raise the quality and efficiency of care.
Our insurance providers don't care enough to make this kind of change on their own. It will call for government regulation to make this kind of progressive shift to a true market economy in the medical industry.
At this point I would like to call on all of you to look at the effects of the healthcare problems weigh them carefully against the points I have offered here for your consideration. Whatever choice you make, do it loudly! Talk about it with your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, the people you ride with to work. Write to your congressmen, your state assemblymen and your county and local political representatives. Let them know how you feel on the subject and remind them that you will be watching their actions and remembering come election time.
This week OffTheBus is publishing a variety of stories that cover the policy differences between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. If you have a policy expertise and would like to participate, please see Calling All Policy Gurus.