Healthcare Thoughts

Healthcare is expensive. That has been established. Many problems cause the high costs of healthcare. No one solution will bring down the costs. Only dividing the problem into smaller pieces will we be able to see potential solutions. The cause for high drug prices is not the same cause for high prices for office visits. Different problems need different solutions.

  • Some patients use medical services when there is little or no real need
  • Some patients do not use the services when there is a real need
  • Malpractice insurance is too expensive
  • Executive salaries are too high
  • New drugs take too long to be approved
  • New drugs are approved too rapidly with not enough testing
  • Patients are not aware of the costs so do not make appropriate economic decisions

A tax deduction for insurance premiums does nothing to change the costs of healthcare it just changes who is paying for it. It may actually have a negative effect on the system by hiding the true cost of healthcare. We need to concentrate on reducing the actual costs. Better diet and exercise by individuals, early detection tests for common ailments and greater visibility of prices for medications and treatments will reduce the demand for healthcare.

The problem is too big and has not been clearly defined. If I was president and wanted to get something done this year, I’d spend a week debating how to reduce the costs of drugs. The following week would be spent on emergency room access. Then malpractice reform. Then EMR's to reduce duplication of tests and prevent errors. Then we can discuss if healthcare premiums should be tax deductable. As the summer winds down the country can chat about prevention (exercise & diet). Time should be set aside to find ways of reducing the cost of treating chronic diseases such as diabetes. When 300,000,000 people have looked at the problems and multiple solutions then we can vote which system will address the greatest number of issues with the least pain.

NY Times article on Why We Must Ration Health Care

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