Wednesday, September 22, 2010
challenging the GOP to detail just how they would 'fix' things...
Well, the first thing to do is to properly identify the problem, one can't solve a problem if you don't have a clue on what the problem really is. And as I have written before, health insurance isn't the problem, the problem is the high cost of health care.
If the cost of health care weren't so high, the problems with health insurance all go away. At its core, health insurance is are groups of people banding together to share among themselves the costs of taking care of each member of the group.
In fact, if health care wasn't so expensive, there would far less of a demand for health insurance at all. To illustrate, the reason many young people go without insurance is that they don't spend a lot on health care in the first place; they're more than happy to pay out of pocket for the costs they do incur on a day to day basis.
So my approach (speaking for all of the GOP, at least those who make the distinction between health care costs and health insurance costs) is to lower the cost of health care to where getting one's body fixed would be no more expensive than getting one's car fixed.
And how to do this?
First, increase the supply of providers. It's simple economics, the more people you have providing a service, the less they are able to charge for those services. So let's dramatically increase the number of those who provide health care services... more doctors, more hospitals. And to further increase the supply, let's allow nurses and physician assistants to do even more than they can now. Allow pharmacists to dispense certain drugs directly, without requiring the patient to first see a doctor.
Second, let's reduce the costs of providing the care. Eliminating the need for health insurance companies, and with them, all of their expenses and the expenses providers incur in complying with their demands, would dramatically cut health care costs... my guess is that we could shave a good 10% off the top, perhaps even more.
To further reduce the costs of providing health care, let's institute true malpractice reform, starting with making the plaintiff attorneys pay the legal costs of the doctors they sue if they don't prevail in court. Establish panels which would adjudicate claims which would eliminate the phenomena of sympathetic juries awarding damages, not because the doctor was truly at fault, but because the jury feels sorry for the plaintiff. Drug companies wouldn't be able to be sued if the patient and/or the patient's doctor were negligent in taking or prescribing the drug. Doing this would cut billions upon billions from the tab.
As treating disease with drugs is usually much less expensive than treating it medically, let's speed up the process of developing and approving new drugs. We need to change the FDA's focus from keeping drugs off the market if they show the slightest negative side effects to a focus on approving drugs that, in sum, provide more benefits than costs.
This is just a start, there is more that can be done to lower the costs of obtaining health care. And when we do so, paying for health care stops being a financial burden.
That is the conservative response to liberals who want to know what we would do for those in need... in a twist of the cliche, 'a rising tide lifts all boats', I am proposing we lower the costs to a point where everyone could afford to pay for whatever level of health care they wanted.