When I was a kid, I heard a trucking company owner talk about how he started, and in the early days learned to improve, his business. One of the most important things he did was to follow competitors’ trucks to see what they did differently.
Years later, as a law clerk, I was in Las Vegas for a pre-trial conference on a case. Afterward, still in a three-piece suit, I was in the sports book at Bally’s. The floor boss came up to me and wanted to know where I was from.
Turned out only people from the Gaming Commission - whom the casino people all knew on sight - and folks who run casinos wear suits in Las Vegas. “And we call to tell each other if we’re gonna stop by, as a courtesy.”
Even casino owners - who don’t worry so much about competition; it takes a complete idiot to lose money running a casino - check out the competition. Why the United States does not consider what other countries do in regard to health care is absurd.
The United States ranks 37th - as in 36 other countries are ahead of us in health care in the quality of our health care. We can learn from some of those 36 countries, such as Singapore (#6), Oman (#8), Singapore (#11), Finland, Sweden, Portugal (#12), Colombia (#22), France (#1), and Italy (#2).
Here are some things that might be good: utilize the buying power of the consumers of health care to drive down prices, especially of pharmaceutical drugs. A large group can negotiate better than an individual.
Another idea is cliche: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If screening tests and other preventative measures require no payment, overall costs of health care go down for everyone. People don’t get tested if the test is too costly.
This could extend to kids, who should not be punished for the sin of poverty - or even middle class status - wrought by their parents. Quality health care early in life correlates positively with good health long-term a/k/a long life.
We also can cut overhead. The markup for administrative costs can be incredible. And why do hospitals and pharmaceutical companies need to advertise. Not many people choose hospitals because of spiffy TV ads - or based on robo-calls.
While we’re at it, New Zealand is the only other country that even allows drug companies to advertise. And speaking of ads, as Professor Sheila Suess Kennedy noted recently in her blog, drug companies pay more for advertising than for research and development.
These all are ideas that can save money and make health care more affordable. The magic wand of privatization works in few places. Health care is NOT one of those places.
If you do not want the government to control your health care decisions, neither should you want oligopolies - that’s what health insurance companies and so-called not-for-profit hospitals are - to make those decisions.
The real “death panels” consist of people in fine business attire who direct underwriters to rule out categories of procedures as too damaging to the “bottom line.” After all, insurance companies make money by taking in premiums and paying out as few claims as possible.
Of course, some people say they want left out of any national health care pool - because they are not now sick. That would be fine, except - almost 100% of us will need health care in our lives, increasingly toward the end.
We should not be so cruel as to say to those folks, as the light dims and organs in the body falter: TFB - we don’t tolerate dead beats. Everyone will use, or benefit, from the system.
I’m Mark Small. I’m a candidate in the May 5 primary for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. The proposals I’ve listed are fiscally conservative, and socially humane. I approve of this blog. Hell, I wrote it.