It is time that we took control over our own Health care and away from the Insurance companies! If you talk to Doctors and the common person, both groups will say that the Healthcare system is broken. Insurance companies are the one’s that determine what care can be given and what drugs can be prescribed. What happened to patient/Doctor dialogue? It is always slanted toward what procedures and or drugs that a persons insurance will allow. This is not freedom of choice but choices being made for you without your consent!
There are several issues that have to be looked at in order to fix this situation. First how doctors are compensated.
Doctors have spent may years and considerable money to have the right to practice medicine. When they finally get to practice what they trained so many years for, they find out they are actually only hourly employees. They get paid only by the number of procedures they can do in a finite length of time, or the number of patients that they can run through their turnstiles and can only charge what the insurance companies are willing to allow them to charge! To say this is not optimum is an understatement.
The insurance companies also make it very difficult to pay for the services that a patients might need and in several cases will cause unnecessary procedures because the doctor can get paid for them and other procedures that would be beneficial are not performed because they are not covered. Many doctors feel hamstrung because of these issues.
I have talked to several MD’s about this situation and all of them have said that they would rather offer their services for large discounts if the patients would pay without insurance. It seems that the insurance that everyone has been trained to believe is a necessity has become more of a roadblock to truly superior healthcare that citizens of this country deserve.
I think there is a better way. I would like to propose for discussion the following ideas:
Subscription Doctors – We are all used to paying a subscription for Cable, Internet, streaming music, and many other things on a monthly basis. The same can be done for your Doctor! In some places it is called concierge service where you get all the procedures, and consultations that you need with your doctor on a monthly subscription. You are provided all the care you need for this monthly rate. This is not unlike your existing car insurance. The insurance companies charge you a fee and bet that most people will not need to use their services. The doctor would be the same way. A doctor or a group of doctors could have a subscription per person that would cover all the costs that they would incur in providing the service to those who need it without having to rush through every patients because they have to turn the numbers to get their pay. They could also order only the test necessary to get to a proper diagnosis. The vast majority of the people who would utilize a subscription doctor would not need them on a constant basis therefore they would be funding the ones that do need the service. When I had to provide healthcare insurance for my family as a startup company, i was paying over $2200 a month for the privilege of having an insurance company tell me what I could and could not have tested or medicines that I could utilize. I never used $2200 in a month for medical costs while raising my 4 children.
Expand the adoption of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) – A HSA is a savings account that is dedicated to pay for medical expenses. The money put into the HSA is pre-tax money so it reduces your tax rate while giving you a savings account that is used to pay for medical expenses. If I would have put the same $2200 a month into a HSA then I would have had a much better safety net for healthcare costs than I had with the insurance that I was buying. The $2200 a month would have given me $26,400 for the year in an account to cover any medical costs that I would have incurred. this HSA could also be used to fund the medical subscription that I talked about earlier. If my subscription would have been $150/per person time 6 people it would have only been $900 a month which still leaves $1300 a month for any other types of medical emergencies. I know these dollar figures are only for discussion sake but are not far off what is available in the existing marketplace now. As a side note, the HSA would put more money in the economy as it would foster better saving habits for the masses.
Employers could contribute to one or both of these plans just as they do now to provide health insurance as a benefit. Both of these plans would streamline the process it takes now to provide healthcare. It would give control back to the consumer and away from the insurance providers. It would also foster better competition among healthcare providers to make sure you get the best service for your subscription. We are used to changing our mind with our other subscription services depending on the value of the service it provides. It also can give the consumer a hedge against the possibility of losing a job and the healthcare benefit that went with the job. With money in the HSA you can still have some backup to pay for your healthcare needs while looking for another job. One of the biggest headaches of changing a job is the need to get new insurance.
This is a disruptive change in mindset from the way things are now. Both parties want a change but their interest in not necessarily in the best interest of the population as a whole but for their parties best interest. It is time like this that there needs to be new ways of thinking. There is a great debate on how to fix our healthcare system and this is just one set of ideas that can be used to start the conversation.