Universal Healthcare: A Chain of Inevitable Problems and Resistance
What do you think of the healthcare system in the country? For one, we are sure you would tell it’s far from ideal. And it is so- there just is so much that we need to work on to bring uniformity to healthcare and ensuring proper medical attention to all.
And yet, we have so much going on the healthcare scene that at times, it does get confusing!
Universal healthcare, a single payer system, Government run health plans- everything is great and idealistic but is it practical for the US healthcare scenario?
Let’s explore the big picture here.
The US Healthcare Scenario and its Problems
As much as we have citizens in need of healthcare, there is also a lot of politics and personal gains around it. We are spending trillions of dollars on healthcare but without any significant outcome.
The American medical system featured at the last of an 11 country list based on performance while spending more than each of them. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and others were way ahead than USA in the finding.
Healthcare coverage is also not working out the way it is supposed to. Insurance companies are monopolizing the reimbursement models by limiting it within the regulations of state boundaries. They also manipulate authorization and don’t cover many procedures and medications. Skyrocketing drug prices have made it worse as they are not covered as advertised on the television.
In fact, the Commonwealth Fund found that American doctors spend an abnormal amount of time delivering the treatment and medicines included under the coverage of a patient.
Patients as the New Age Consumers
In the modern era of smartphones and internet healthcare has been invaded by the consumer mentality and high expectations. We are not ready to accept what is given to us; rather we want what we want in a timely manner!
Some of us are trying to address the concern by promoting performance based reimbursement model. We ask our patients to fill out post visit surveys but do they really achieve anything? We get the feedback but aren’t able to provide more options and choices to our patients. It leaves many unanswered questions-
· Can single payer system or universal healthcare overcome the issues?
· Will forcing taxpayers to help maintain the timely delivery of care?
· Will the government be able to harness drug prices and control them?
It’s like Opening a Can of Worms!
Once we open the can of healthcare, problems pour out like worms which will take generations to address. To begin with we have a political system which many believe provides opportunity for the rich and powerful while restraining those who are talented but weak. The Commonwealth Fund found that America has inequality in healthcare between the rich and the poor and affordability. On the same grounds, direct medication coverage by Medicare is not practical for our country!
A single payer system may not be the answer to all the problems. Countries which adopt the single payer system implement governmental control on pricing and delivery. Will our government be able to do the same? If not then all decisions will need intervention of the Supreme Court and most of them will die an early death without ever being realized! That will make the system imperfect which is worse than the broken one we currently have.
Single payer also brings along other problems- what is going to happen to the pharmacy ads? Will we be able to choose our preferences as consumers? What will be made out of patient satisfaction survey results? What about the satisfaction of the physician and quality reimbursement models? Will the government be able to provide enough premium to cover all healthcare costs? How do we know how much money is enough?
Controlled Healthcare goes Hand in Hand with Medical Supply and Medication Cost Model
Interestingly, the list of countries we are talking about is topped by Netherlands who have a private insurance industry which is heavily regulated and subsidized by the government. The process is also not as complicated as the US where both doctor and patients spend a considerable time and effort on formalities.
We need fair and honest competitive market for the best healthcare outcome. We cannot get rid of competition as it will only open the can of worms! Physicians don’t really care who pays them as they are more focused on quality of care. If we are to provide full coverage then everyone should have access to quality healthcare and not just minimal healthcare. We need a healthcare system which people who pass them will be ready to use specifically if we are the ones paying for it.
Universal healthcare can never be equated with healthcare coverage for all. There is a process of implementing true universal healthcare which involves developing fitting strategies and empowering citizens with suitable technologies with forward looking healthcare policies. We cannot depend on old and ineffective solutions that have failed time and again in case of other experienced countries. The new laws can reduce the amount of insurance coverage for each patient which will hamper his access to primary care and make the situation worse than it already is.
We should focus on the resources that we have rather than trying to improve what others have. The current discussions around single payer system only create too much conflict of interests and constitutional questions in all of us! Do we really want to walk that path?
Let us look forward to a healthcare which extends to all independent practice models and bring democratization and equality. We have spent enough time under a system which promotes bureaucratization and dictation. We have to strive to bring all the citizens under coverage and start treating them like public utilities.