The problem with healthcare is healthcare and not insurance. 25% of the entire 2015 Federal budget was tagged for healthcare costs. The Affordable Care Act was intended to provide health insurance for everyone and was inaptly coined the ‘Affordable Care Act’. There were no real teeth in keeping healthcare costs under control because nothing in the Act really held the providers of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment or doctors to real measures or regulations intended to curtail these costs.
“What cost saving measures would Silence impose,” you rhetorically ask? I will gladly layout some commonsense measures that would suggest to lower overall costs.
- Disallow Pharmaceutical Television Advertisements – Why do these companies advertise to people that cannot buy their products retail? This is the most asinine marketing campaign. In 2015, the Healthcare industry spent more than $5 Billion on media advertisements. These are the commercials that tell you “if you have these symptoms ask your doctor if [This Way Overpriced Medication is for you.]” You cannot even buy their product retail. This is an honest waste of money that can save Americans millions of dollars in prescription drug costs.
- Disallow Pharmaceutical Practice of “Dollars for Doctors” – Despite rules and laws governing gifts to doctors, the practice continues. See Disclosure Rules Don’t Stem Flow Of Pharma Cash To State’s Doctors. The money to pay for subsidies, in whatever form, must necessarily come from the people who buy the Rx company’s drugs, thereby artificially pushing up the costs of these drugs to the American people and government. All patients deserve to know if their doctor has received some form of remuneration from the drug maker of whose drug they are about to prescribe. The decisions to prescribe medication should be independent and necessarily free from any undue influence purchased in the way of these ‘dollars for doctors’. Money is a great influence on ones decision making. The currency cares not about my health, but my doctor should. See also What is Your Doctor Getting Paid? (Concluding that $27 Billion dollars was spent in 2014 on the marketing to doctors).
- Require Medical Equipment Purchases Direct from Manufacturers – Many do not realize, but that unbelievably expensive MRI machine in the hospital was not purchased directly from the manufacturer. Rather third-party sales associates (sort of like car dealers) from independent companies negotiate the sale of the equipment for a fee (5% not untypically). Doing the math, 5% of a $10 million machine is $500,000. All for the third-party company just to connect the medical provider to the equipment manufacturer. Again, these costs are passed on to the ultimate consumer and to the insurance provider or government.
- Medical Tort Reform – Lastly, a large portion of the cost of healthcare covers the doctor or hospital’s medical malpractice insurance. Those in the medical profession are like other professions; we have good days and bad days. Only, when the healthcare provider has a bad day, it could mean she is sued for a less than perfect outcome on the medical procedure. I do not intend to intimate that negligent doctors should be permitted to fail without penalty, but there should be a true finding of economic loss to compensate the victim. Further, the victim should not be rewarded with a windfall of cash labelled as compensation. I suggest rather, that any large monetary payment be set aside in a pool, available nationally, from which victims of medical malpractice can draw upon for future treatments (both physically and mentally) as needed to cope with the malpractice.It should be noted that med-mal liability has been curtailed in a number of states, but those states have yet to see a concomitant reduction in healthcare costs. The Department of Health and Human Services should be called to study the disparity in such reductions in liability and why the diminished liability is not finding its way to the costs of the healthcare services.
The above are not an extensive or exclusive list of way to reduce medical costs, but merely represent the low-hanging fruit that would serve to lessen the burden. If the intention of our Federal government is to reduce the cost of health insurance, they must inevitably begin by cutting the costs of healthcare in general.
Remember what Father Abraham says in that, “One may only control the temperate comfort of a house in the winter by ensuring the insulation is good and the windows are closed.”