Copyright (c) 2010 Scott F Paradis
In the rush to pass healthcare reform congress and the president are failing to address the fundamental issues corrupting the system: Americans' approach to aging and mortality and the growing opportunity to siphon profits from an uncontrolled system. As the misguided debate rages on Capitol Hill attempting to infuse more funds into an already bloated system, opportunists continue to divert health related revenue to pad the bottom line. Instead of committing more resources we must take three aggressive steps to refashion American healthcare. We must limit profit; empower consumers; and promote healthy lifestyles.
The American healthcare system is a nearly perfect money machine: consumable services of universal demand which are easily manipulated by fear and greed. This money machine, however, is draining resources from virtually every aspect of the economy. We must institute well thought out measures to address highly charged emotional issues - literally the realities of life: death and taxes. And we need effective means to dissuade parasites from feeding off the system. We must turn off the road to financial ruin now and steer a new course.
Currently health related services account for 17.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. By the end of this decade healthcare is expected to represent nearly one fifth of all domestic spending. With trillions of dollars in play lots of people are mining for healthcare gold. Today hundreds of billions of dollars of non health-related healthcare resources are siphoned off for at best marginal benefit enriching overpaid corporate executives, lawyers, politicians and an army of bureaucrats. The damage the parasites inflict amount, by some estimates, to one third or more of all healthcare costs. The first step to fix the healthcare system is to get the focus off profit and get it squarely on health.
Powerful corporations control access to healthcare services leaving consumers to fend for themselves mainly ill-informed and largely powerless, in often emotionally charged circumstances. Because of built in firewalls people have no incentive to, nor way of comparing healthcare related costs, services or records of performance. In addition to the lack of transparency consumers rarely have the power or incentive to choose more cost effective options. The system is designed like the games in Las Vegas - to ensure the house always wins. Special interests overwhelm individual consumers at every turn. Choices by informed, responsible individuals sustain rational, market-driven systems. To fix American healthcare we must empower and incentivize individual consumers to determine "best value" in a transparent healthcare system.
Every economic endeavor is a dance of supply and demand. While the current healthcare system primarily manipulates the supply side of the equation it is time Americans get serious addressing the demand side.
A lifetime is a temporary adventure. As troubling as this realization is, as a society we must come to terms with mortality and the components of modern life undermining wellbeing. We each are responsible for our own health and fitness, and collectively we are responsible for the environment driving the pace and quality of life. Improving the health, wellbeing and fitness of Americans in all stages of life will drastically reduce demand on the healthcare system. The most significant step to fix American healthcare is to honestly assess our circumstances and act uncompromisingly to promote health and wellness from cradle to grave.
Continuing down the current path, funneling national resources at an ever increasing rate to sustain an aging population and inflate opportunists' profits, will cause our healthcare system and then our national economy to collapse. While congress debates ways to increase the power and reach of the system, realize the solution lies with the people. Three steps are required to fix American healthcare: limiting profit, empowering individuals and improving lifestyles. We can stay our current course or we can fix the system - it is time to choose.
Scott F Paradis, author of "Promise and Potential - A Life of Wisdom, Courage, Strength and Will" http://www.promiseandpotential.com
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