How I Would Fix Healthcare in the United States
Healthcare in the United States is a business. It drives profits from individuals at every level. The hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, and other medical professionals make a living from the treatment of their patients.
That’s a fact we can’t escape here in the United States. The Affordable Care Act was passed in an attempt to address a number of important issues facing individuals that have been turned down for health insurance coverage or otherwise victimized by the for-profit system we have in place.
Instead of doing away with a free market model, a compromise was made to keep the free market while giving access to health care to as many people as possible.
The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. It attempted to keep prices down by forcing everyone to purchase health insurance, and to impose taxes on businesses and individuals that did not comply with its mandates.
This part of the Affordable Care Act upsets conservatives that believe that additional taxes and government requirements are an affront to the American way of life.
Let’s further agree that the ACA is really just a gift to the health insurance companies as it doesn’t address the high costs to taxpayers. Insurance companies are posting record profits. They should profit, but we’re on the verge of extortion at this point.
Why Repeal is Not the Answer
What we don’t need is an outright repeal. Doing so undoes many of the good aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Coverage for pre-existing conditions is a must-have for millions of Americans that have active or previous life-threatening conditions. Not having health insurance means being denied treatment for chronic conditions.
The Emergency Room might not be able to turn you away, but it also doesn’t provide lifesaving treatment for cancer, immune deficiency diseases, or other chronic illnesses. It is in place to stabilize someone and keep them alive. This is where a lot of confusion comes from.
Conservatives in favor of a full repeal argue that no one dies from not having health insurance. While it’s true you would be treated regardless of coverage for an acute illness or accident, you won’t receive ongoing care for conditions that are deadly over time.
Students and other youth being able to stay on their parent’s insurance plan into their 20s is another benefit that has made a big difference in the lives of millions. Imagine being a student at University and having to take on a full-time job just to be able to receive health insurance coverage while you receive an education. Overwhelming schedules force students to choose between their education and their well-being.
Why Middle-ground Compromise is the Answer
The best solution as I see it is a middle-ground approach. Neither side is going to budge if the plan is to throw away everything they’ve proposed and run with the exact opposite. That’s never going to last, and will likely never pass short of a super majority that agrees on everything.
Allow Customized Coverage Plans
To mitigate cost increase, customized lower-cost plans that allow individuals to choose what type of coverage they have could be introduced. Let a male not pay for mammogram coverage or birth control. Let females not pay for erectile dysfunction coverage or prostate exams.
I should be able to say I want insurance in the event I get diagnosed with cancer or end up in a car accident, but I don’t need insurance for a sinus infection or the flu.
Catastrophic Coverage Plans
Bring back the catastrophic plans that cost a lot less and enable people to receive treatment in the event of a sudden emergency. This plan is terrible for some people, but for others it is all they feel they need.
No Employer or Personal Mandate
Don’t force employers to buy coverage for employees. This will instantly make health insurance more competitive, and prices will go down. Health insurance companies want businesses to buy plans for their employees. Competitive pricing makes that less of a burden on these companies and frees up funding for additional employment opportunities and/or higher wages.
Cut out the mandate that everyone buys it. That hurts poor folks that have to choose between healthcare and food. This will drive prices up as the healthy individuals that decide not to have insurance because they feel they don’t need it will abandon the program.
Keep Pre-existing Conditions
Keep pre-existing conditions where it is. Someone should never be denied coverage for a brain tumor because they were pregnant a few years prior. An unreported yeast infection should never result in denied claims for cancer treatment. That’s what happened in the United States prior to the Affordable Care Act.
Reduce Malpractice Lawsuits
Make it much harder for people to sue their doctors. Malpractice happens, but we’re at a point where if a doctor follows the natural course of diagnosis, he/she is liable for millions of dollars in damages if the most likely diagnosis turns out to be the wrong one.
Medicine is not perfect. Doctors are not perfect. We expect them to be right most of the time. Suing them for millions of dollars at the drop of a hat is why hospitals charge $50 for a plastic cup.
Single-payer Systems Work, Despite the Rhetoric
Until and unless we adopt a single-payer system here like all of our other first-world allies, we’re stuck with this capitalistic one where we are destined to pay more into it than we take out. This is the downside of the free market.
Competition lowers prices for products – not for insurance. Insurance is an industry built on the premise that it will always cost more than it needs to.
We have a disaster of a system here in the USA. We can keep putting bandages on it and making it a little better for some at the detriment of others, or we can finally think beyond the scope of what we have and look to systems that are successfully operating in other countries.