Most of us have had the experience at a doctors office of being rushed in and out of the treatment room by a harried physician who barely looks up from the computer screen and can only deal with a single complaint in your barely 5 minute interaction – this is less about medicine than money.
Even though cash doesn’t change hands the interaction is all about the benjamins: the doc needs to make ends meet and every year has to speed up a little because he’s being squeezed by declining reimbursements while his med school loan payments aren’t shrinking.
The insurance companies also have a say in how doctors treat you. They insist on reimbursing for bad medicine and faulty treatment algorithms. They funnel everyone towards more diagnoses, more prescription drugs and more procedures. They don’t care much for real preventive medicine, lifestyle counseling or healthy habits.
Insurance companies are unnecessary interlopers in urgent care and primary care. They drive up overall healthcare costs (as all middlemen inevitably do). Patients or taxpayers are the ones who end up paying those high costs one way or another.
If you have private insurance through work, the premiums come right out of your own paycheck diminishing your take home pay.
All taxpayers fund the bloated federal government healthcare plans that aren’t even allowed to bargain with pharmaceutical companies over the prices of prescription drugs.
Insurance in general is meant to cover large and unexpected costs, not things like groceries, electricity bills, dental care or routine doctor’s visits.
Of course with a bad economy and plummeting real wages everyone is being squeezed and few can find the extra cash to cover urgent care and primary care visits.
This is not fair and the government as a representative of the people should step in and help those in need, but the system in place right now just doesn’t work and doesn’t pay for the services that patients really need.
If big government could have fixed healthcare it would have done so by now. If big business could have figured it out then the health startup Haven championed by Buffet, Bezos and Chase Bank wouldn’t have folded 2 uneventful years after it was announced.
Where does that leave us?
Cutting out the insurance middleman may be the only way to both lower overall healthcare costs and put some humanity back into healthcare.
Figuring out how to actually do that without the help of the federal government or big business is a long term project that will require a shift in the way we all view healthcare. It will require a return to form of the traditional non-profit healthcare systems that of late have been hijacked by high finance and turned into sad relics of their former selves.
It will require everyone who has the means to come together and donate just a little extra to help those who can’t help themselves. If you are interested in helping out with this endeavor I invite you to get in touch with me to discuss how we can transition to a donation based system that views healthcare as a human right rather than a service for a fee.