Once upon a time, our leaders decided that religion and religious activities would have a reserved place in America. A place that would be separated from government intervention. These wise leaders decided that there would be no taxes levied, no control over the curriculum, and no interference with the business of religion. Land could be secured, incomes could be made, and the internal operations would be free from outside meddling. The free will of the people would determine the organizations fate. I ask – “Why not the medical industry?”
Imagine a world where healing the body was awarded the same rights from the powers that be as healing the soul. Could that stance save the medical industry from the crushing weight of the outside interests? Let’s imagine what that may look like.
In my new town of Utopia USA, the local government, the developers, the medical professionals, and the insurance industry would all work in harmony to create a medical care panacea. How?
The government of Utopia would work with health care in the same manner as religion. It would eliminate all taxes and fees on health care providers and the physical infrastructure they use. This action would instantly drop the price point of care. The government would require from the developers that for every X number of families, land and a suitable building would be set aside for a local health clinic. This building would be reserved for purchase by a medical professional and only for the express purpose of opening a medical family practice facility. Additionally, for every Y number of families, a short term emergency care facility will be created, and for every Z number of families a longer term trauma center must be built.
With the facilities in place, the next major government interaction would be to exempt (or drastically reduce) lawsuits against these facilities and the practitioners within them. The risk/reward of a procedure would have to be evaluated by the patient instead of using the threat of litigation to control the outcome. Every time I climb on a ladder to cut tree limbs I have to factor in the weather, the solidity of the ground, the height of the limb, etc. If the risk is too high, I hire someone willing to take the risk or the trees do not get cut. If In Utopia USA, I needed a knee operation, I would take the time to research the best doctor and clinic. I would then weigh the possible risks vs. rewards of the procedure and decide if it was worth the risk and cost. If after the proper planning, it goes badly, so be it. Sometimes things happen.
The last involvement by government is to require the clear labeling of all procedure costs by every doctor and clinic. Fees may be anything the doctor wishes, but like the calorie count on my food at the restaurant, the identification of the fees allow me to intelligently select the ones I want. Free market pressure will then drive prices down.
Without the oppressive overhead created by the current litany of taxes, fees and malpractice insurance, a practitioners costs could be lowered to realistic levels. Without the endless forms to prepare, fewer non-medical employees would be required at the medical facilities. Employee costs would be drastically reduced. Without the overhead and confusion, patients would be able to draw a direct correlation between the quality of care each doctor could provide for each dollar spent. Poor quality doctors would be moved down the food chain or out of the system altogether. The removal of these low quality doctors would mitigate even more the loss of malpractice liability.
Doctors could become entrepreneurs again. Free market selection would continue to make the good ones wealthy, but at a cost point attainable by the clients. Without the threat of frivolous lawsuits and government intrusion, doctors could eliminate extraneous test procedures, gain back time that would be otherwise wasted on paperwork, and just maybe use that time to improve their craft.
Ah everybody’s favorite subject, the insurance company. If the above changes worked to reduce cost and simplify choices, the insurance companies should be able to create simplified packages of care based on cost not coverage. Ex. If I wanted to purchase an insurance plan, I could find the doctor I want, review his charges for all his services and determine a dollar amount of coverage I want from the insurance company. Then I could add on a catastrophic coverage package for the unforeseen and I would be set.
Risk vs. Reward
Once upon a time the US government made the decision to spare religion from the government’s endless appetite for control and taxation. They made the decision to frontload religious institutions existence by granting them freedom from oversight and put the decision making in their own hands. With that, religious organizations flourished on the free will and generosity of the attendees. Each person could choose the right organization for them, the right spiritual leader, and even the amount of earthly riches they were will to part with to proportionally compensate them for the spiritual healing they received.
Just as with the choice one has to make with their spiritual salvation, if medical institutions were given similar protections, the free market would likewise balance the needs for our physical salvation. I hear you saying – what about the poor? Won’t they get substandard care? Do you get the same care as your Senator? Do you get the same care as Bill Gates? Will you ever? Clearly the advantages between the halves and have-nots will never change. But if the rules on the facilities are regulated everywhere, doctors and nurses will fill them, just as teachers fill the schools in poor neighborhoods. Will the care be the same in every facility, maybe not? Will it still be better than 90% of the rest of the world, absolutely?
Next blog – driving down the medicine costs.