Monday, November 14, 2005

More on Universal Coverage

The below comes in from Neil Whipkey, whose thoughtful comments I have posted on several occasions. As he knows, I do not share his enthusiasm for national health insurance, but I suspect that among health care leaders, more agree with him than with me.

The first bullet in your October 6 posting (Universal Coverage) is right on target. The second bullet is inaccurate to the extent that while many players in the health care system are financially healthy, there are certainly many players who do not share in this financial prosperity. I strongly disagree with the third bullet. There is, in my opinion, more than enough money in the system. What has to change is not the amount of money in the system, rather how the money is collected and distributed. Universal coverage, one payer (government), along with a national tax for funding can address and resolve the issues you raise.

Your last bullet, "...infuse large amounts of additional money into a...system that is undisciplined, unaccountable, and grossly inefficient" is half right. The system is undisciplined, unaccountable, and inefficient. However, as stated above I am convinced no new money is needed and quite possibly less.

All of the issues that managed to get discussed are nothing more than symptoms of what is wrong with the system. Medicare crisis, Medicaid crisis, pharmaceutical cost, uninsured and under insured, rising insurance cost for businesses, governments, and individuals, IT, malpractice cost, trial lawyers and whatever issue might come up are not the problem. The problem is how the money in the system is collected and how it is distributed. Fix the problem and the symptoms will take care of themselves.

Here is how we can make this happen. What we have to do is get the heavy hitters involved. I do not mean the big players in medicine. I mean the automobile makers, GM, Ford, Honda, Nissan and the entire industry, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Time Warner/ComCast, Wal Mart, National and State Chamber of Commerce Associations, U.S. Governors Association, National Association of Mayors and on and on. Involve those who are most adversely impacted (in their finances) by the undisciplined, unaccountable, and inefficient Gordian Knot that we call our health care system.

Make it an economic issue and keep all of the health care players in the background in the effort. We, the health care players, can advise and assist the business leaders in this effort. Get business to lead the charge and significant positive reform will happen quickly. Universal coverage, one payer, and a national tax to pay for it will resolve the symptoms that we spend so much time addressing.

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