Monday, February 04, 2008

A Healthcare Proposal

You know, I've been thinking. Since the State of California doesn't seem able to enact single payer healthcare legislation, and now doesn't even seem able to enact a "free market" plan, let's just spit it out: the reason we can't get any changes is because the healthcare industry (Big Pharma and profiteers) is so powerful.

The overwhelming majority of Californians know that profit making should be eliminated from the healthcare system; making a profit on one's health (or illness) is ghoulish. It is counter to every instinct of humanity. So let's attack the issue from a different angle.

First: let's deal with cost containment. I don't have the magic bullet for this one but it seems to me that we could start by mandating that Big Pharma negotiate drug prices with the State and that those prices apply to everyone. And perhaps we should put an annual cap on the amount of increase permitted throughout the healthcare industry.

Second: we must mandate parity between mental and physical illnesses. Illness is illness and it's time we recognized it.

Third: we must mandate that every healthcare provider (or insurer) must accept any Californian who applies for coverage without regard for pre-existing conditions, and they must not cancel one's coverage because of same. In instances of "experimental" treatment, funding should be provided by a special fund administered by the State. The fund would determine what is truly experimental. In a federal scenario this would be the National Institutes of Health.

Fourth: Healthcare "premiums" would continue to be paid by consumers, employers, and the state.

My hope is that not-for-profit healthcare would prevail. It's just not acceptable that for-profit insurers continue paying out 30% of their revenues for administrative costs when we know that Medicare's administrative costs are less than 3%. Profiteers would have to stop fighting their customers over what benefits they are entitled to and probably would realize a substantial saving in administrative costs as a result. Of course it would weed out companies that are not in the healthcare business but whose bottom line is their bottom line.

And that would serve us all.

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