Healthcare used to be personal. Doctors like Marcus Welby visited our homes to take care of us and the process wasn’t complicated. Sadly, that was a long time ago and before the government, health insurers and providers (hospitals, pharmacy, doctors) took over our healthcare. These rule-makers designed our current system to suit their needs — not the people and employers (consumers) they serve.
Through a complex process called “coding/billing,” the cost of care is determined by the contract negotiated between the government/insurer and the provider — and the variation in cost for the same service can be in excess of 1,000% or more. When consumers get healthcare, they are not informed about cost and quality upfront, they learn afterward, feeling frustrated about the cost or worse, not well from receiving poor care. Can you imagine buying anything that important or expensive without knowing those basic facts first? In an opaque marketplace, the status quo will not change, access to caregivers will suffer and the financial burden will only get worse. It’s not sustainable; we can do better.
America’s healthcare can be great again if we understand that “health insurance is expensive because healthcare is expensive” and we embrace our individual responsibility to make educated and informed decisions when we need care (except in emergencies). The only way to improve healthcare financial sustainability is to build a community that’s about the consumers who buy the services. If we educate and empower them and create a transparent, competitive, consumer-centric free market, we will make America’s healthcare great again — improving quality, lowering costs, helping those less fortunate and serving the consumer.
The rule-makers will say, “This isn’t possible, healthcare is too complicated and the average person isn’t capable of making these kinds of decisions. They need us to take care of it for them.”
My thoughts, if we can fly a rocket to Mars, land it and drive a remote control rover from Earth, we can solve this challenge. The American people want a competitive, free market; they want to make educated and informed decisions, they just need help doing it. We can make America’s healthcare great again if we start with the grand vision of taking care of consumers and translating that into a blueprint designed to deliver a world class healthcare experience for everyone.
A new framework
These 10 principles and strategies serve as the framework to create an eco-system that is built for consumers and asks the rule-makers to serve them rather than their own special interests:
- Make consumers and employers the priority in healthcare
- Maintain employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) to preserve the tax-free benefit
- Allow individuals to buy coverage across state lines and with tax-preferred dollars
- Offer tax credits to people less fortunate to buy coverage
- Privatize the VA to improve quality and lower cost, then pay 100% of the cost of care for veterans
- Require the federal government to pay providers on par with the commercial market
- Implement tort reform to reduce/eliminate the defensive practice of medicine
- Create a consumer-centric (people and employer), competitive market by making all cost and quality information transparent and offer incentives to improve lifestyle behavior
- Improve and enhance health savings accounts to help consumers pay for care and save for retirement healthcare needs
- Partner with Silicon Valley to build tools and resources for consumers with state of the art technology to improve the healthcare experience and build consumer confidence
It’s time to revolutionize American healthcare by returning the control and responsibility to the American people. We deserve a transparent, competitive marketplace where quality continually improves and costs are held in check; where access to doctors is our choice, not the rule-makers, and where we can get the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and by the right provider — all at an affordable price. This is how we can make America’s healthcare great again.
This article was previously published by “Employee Benefit Advisor“, an information resource for employee benefit advisers, brokers, agents and consultants.