Five Elephants in the Room

Five ideas on how to fix the big three concerns with healthcare:

Cost, quality, and access.

Competition – between hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, will lower cost and improve quality.  Single payer, like all monopolies would increase cost and lower quality.   But for competition to work we also need:

Consumer stake in the cost: if no one cares if their hospital bill is $10,000 or $100,000, competition will not work.  Change copays to coinsurance – a percentage of the fee – to be paid from a healthcare savings account funded with a portion of our insurance premiums, and suddenly, we care.  Once we have a stake, we will all look at the costs, but to look at the costs, we have to see them, so we need:

Cost Transparency – hospitals, doctors, urgent care centers need to say upfront what treatments cost.  Oh, that’s impossible….It’s possible.  Plastic surgeons have been doing it for decades.  Even for complications – list the fees up front.  And for the doctors and hospitals to be able to lower their fees in response to competition, we need:

Tort Reform.  Proven to lower healthcare costs.  Review panels can first determine if a treatment was outside of the standard of care, reducing baseless lawsuits.

And with a look to making healthcare available for 100% of people: Malpractice immunity/coverage for docs, nurses, and staff who offer free services to the uninsured, similar to the Good Samaritan law, with tax deductions for services rendered.  Locations for surgery and in-hospital services could be in VA hospitals, or other sites.  For every one of us who has gone on a mission trip to a poor, dangerous country, there are about one hundred who would be willing to do the same here in the U.S., given the above accommodations.  Why not make our healthcare safety net a charity healthcare safety net instead of ballooning government entitlements.  It works on mission trips to Third World countries, it could work here.  Shouldn’t such ideas at least be part of the conversation?
–Dr. L.

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