A Healthcare Revolution

Do you like the state of medical care in the United States? Most people would say no.

Did you know that socialized medicine was first proposed by Republicans and supported by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush’s? And of course Mitt Romney instituted socialized medicine in Massachusetts.

Republicans only started opposing it once President Obama said he supported healthcare reform. Pathetic!

I am disabled and live on Medicare and Medical (the California version of Medicaid). I must say that my benefits are better than most private health insurance companies. But there are many things I don’t get access too. This included glasses and dental care. And the care I do receive is determined by politicians, not doctors.

The question of whether healthcare needs to be reformed is one that is on most people’s minds. The answer is a resounding YES. Our current system is based on companies making the highest profits while paying out the lowest benefits. Millions of dollars are spent annually on appeals.

Does it make sense to allow corporations only concerned about making profits to run our healthcare system? Of course not. We are the only country that does this.

Healthcare should not be part of capitalism. It is a vital part of our society and a system that should be as simple as possible. If a qualified doctor says you need a medication or a surgery, you get it. If you need an MRI you get one. No waiting months for appointments or years filing appeals. You simply get the medical care you need. And in the least amount of time. We like to say we are the greatest country in the world. It’s time to start acting like it.

Currently if you have a medical emergency at home you call an ambulance and they take you to the hospital. In France you call an ambulance and you just might have a nurse practitioner come to your house. This can save you from an expensive trip in an ambulance and a costly ER bill. A system like this in the US would save insurance companies tens of millions each year. Treating minor problems at home is more far more cost effective than our current system.

Here in the US if you develop an ear infection in the middle of the night the only options are to either suffer until morning hoping your Dr might have an available appointment (which they usually don’t) or go to an emergency room. The ER can cost upwards of $1,000 just to walk in the door. This is before you even see the doctor, who will bill you separately. It also does not include the nursing staff or the supplies used. These costs are added on to the initial cost.

So what is the answer?

It’s time for a non-political or financial look at our healthcare system. If we institute sensible changes and hold accountable those committing fraud we can lower costs and still have healthcare be a part of the open market system. Here is a few basic ideas:

1) Attach a nurse practitioner or physicians assistant to all ambulances.

2) Restructure ER’s to operate as 24 hour healthcare clinics that can also perform emergency care. This would significantly lower costs. Have then staffed with nurse practitioners who can offer basic services or send you to emergency services if needed.

3) Put all doctors at hospitals on salary instead of the current procedure by procedure payment system. This will equalize pay among our medical professionals and make sure that general practitioners and internists receive fair compensation. It will also lower costs for insurance companies.

4) Make all doctors that are attached to hospitals part of the paid staff at those facilities. This will eliminate separate billings, thus eliminating patient confusion.

5) Let doctors make medical decisions, not politicians or administrative personal. There is no excuse for a office worker denying someone a life saving surgery just to save money.

6) Limit how many types of policies insurance companies offer. What’s wrong with offering Bronze, Silver, and Gold level policies. Bronze would be basic care and Gold would cover everything. This would eliminate confusion and make costs clear to people looking to purchase new policies.

7) Force hospitals to make billing simple and straight forward. Don’t allow them to charge people for each and every little thing. Currently if your doctor asks for a CT scan of three part of your body your insurance company (and many times the patient) is billed for 3 separate scans. Hospitals also charge for the time it takes for a nurse to give you your medicine, which should be part of your care, not an extra charge.

8) And most importantly, treat us like patients, not consumers. Purchasing health insurance is not the same as buying a chicken or a bad of oranges. Treat us with respect and the dignity we all deserve.