Friday, February 8, 2008
LiveSmarter has an interesting post detailing ten different ideas to help improve our health care system from 10 experts. Here is a brief selection:
1. Mend the medical schools
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thinks the country needs more medical schools and that doctors, nurses, vets need to learn together. Beginning their education at once, Gerberding says, can encourage healthcare professionals to cooperate and develop a shared mission.
“If we are seriously thinking about building a health system, then we need to be training professionals in a collegial and collaborative manner,” Gerberding told reporters at the annual meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association earlier this year.
2. Single-payer insurance
Dr. Michael Ozer, a San Antonio-based pediatrician and a member of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), says that the country needs to expand health coverage and lower its costs at the same time. The only way to do this, he asserts, is through single-payer national health insurance, or NHI. The approach is similar to healthcare programs in Canada and Britain.
According to PNHP estimates, U.S. insurance companies spend more than a third of health care dollars on administration and marketing, which subtracts money from patient care. A national system, Ozer states, would facilitate long-term cost controls on the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that new benefits are sustainable. Such a system would equal overhead savings possibly to the tune of as much as $350 billion a year. He goes on to cite federal legislation currently under consideration in Congress called the United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676) which, if passed, would extend Medicare to more people.
3. Individual, not company, plans
Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute and co-author of the forthcoming 2nd edition of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It, says market forces bear no consequence on rising healthcare costs. Doctors and insurance companies get away with charging high prices because government programs encourage employer-controlled insurance. More people could benefit if they kept the same insurance plan even if they didn’t keep the same job.
The government is at least taking a step in that direction, Cannon says. President George Bush and GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani have endorsed reforms that would extend the tax break applying to employer-controlled coverage to individual coverage. Those measures could result in families controlling more of their healthcare money and the expansion of coverage to 7 million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
4. Divert the dollar to the doc
Orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Neil Thomas Katz, on the other hand, says that the dollar needs to go to the doctors, not the patients, the insurance companies or the government.
“The solution is simple. Doctors and hospitals need to be paid at least as much as it costs to take care of you. We should not be losing money,” Katz states.
America’s healthcare funds, he claims, go toward paying high executive salaries and to maintaining insurance company staff whose primary job is “to find ways not to pay for your healthcare.” In addition, workers’ compensation and no-fault premiums create a cycle of litigation against doctors and employees. The current system enables a government health bureaucracy to thrive.
5. Pay for the care of populations, not events
Donald Berwick, a Massachusetts pediatrician and the president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, touches upon several ways to transform healthcare. One area he focuses on involves making healthcare a pattern, not a response to a particular occurrence.
Berwick thinks that individuals rely on random health events like hospital stays and office visits for care. A better system would treat patients on a regular basis and aim for high quality preventive care. This method would address “the real needs of patients over time and place, guiding them through the technological thicket of modern medicine, and making sure that they get exactly what they want and need, exactly when and how they want and need it,” Berwick says. . . . .
Thanks to Ezra Klein for the link.