The US Medical Care System Can Save the Economy

It is time the government stops bantering about reforming our healthcare delivery system. Most of the suggestions on the table involve more government, more taxes, higher premiums, or efforts that are NOT legislatively or legally feasible. Rather, America should be demanding that our leaders take advantage of the option to transform what is already the best medical care on the earth into a 21st century transparent, into a consumer driven opportunity for the world.
This country is suffering the ravages of a recession and all the ill health that accompanies the desperation overwhelming over 10% of Americans who are without work. People are agonizing over a federal government wanting to impose itself on our lives from behind closed doors. Americans have lost confidence that the government has the answers and that is born out in our almost un-American inability to pick ourselves up and work our way into a recovery.
Recovery will require building small businesses in every sector of the economy. The healthcare sector is a wonderful place to start. American medicine offers the best medical care in the world. Just this month, a premier from a Canadian Province found his way to the US for surgery. For decades, people from all over the world have come to the US for medical care and they have paid for their care with cash dollars. As government interference and regulations have made care here more expensive, the worlds’ patients have found their care offshore. That must stop and we need to work to produce a marketplace that draws the world back to the US.
A major part of the healthcare debate that prompted the Massachusetts “experience” was the fear that there would be more government in our lives. Our patients and America’s doctors know that a huge reason that costs are as high as they are at this time is because of government regulation and interference. The president of Blue Cross was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on February 6, 2010, stating that the differences in healthcare insurance premiums across the states are directly the result of regulations and mandate.
The more government interference and legislative deliberation, the higher the cost of care. For instance, Blue Cross has increased the cost of premiums in California by 38% as of January 1, 2010. When asked, Blue Cross states that this is because their members were standing in line for elective procedures in 2009 because of the threat of a government takeover of healthcare or the loss of their job in 2010 or after.
Transforming our healthcare delivery system means first asking the states and federal government to take regulations like mandating coverage for maternity care off the books. The privilege of pregnancy is voluntary and not an insurable event. (The complications may be insurable) California just completed new regulations that mandate that a doctor or his/her surrogate must answer a patient’s phone call within 30 minutes. What? Will the healthcare police be tapping our phone systems? ENOUGH! STOP!
We must make private contracting an opportunity for every American. And we must do that NOW. World citizens can and do contract with American doctors and health facilities all the time. It is a privilege denied many living here who are insured by the government or private insurers. Medical tourism is a multi-billion dollar marketplace shared by many countries including India, Thailand, and even Brazil. American doctors are finding their way to foreign facilities in order to practice their craft and to work directly for patients. Why not make every attempt to bring those dollars here and keep those doctors within America’s borders providing care to Americans? Opening the market to competition and eliminating the fixed pricing systems found in Medicare and private insurance will produce more business here in America and will help recover the entire economy.
Consumer directed medical care is a growing market in the healthcare sector. Patients want to be empowered to make their own choices. They want privacy and access to a doctor they know and trust; a doctor who is available to take the time to build that patient-doctor relationship that shapes the success our medical system enjoys right here in America.
As government regulations and fixed pricing systems have driven the typical doctor’s appointment to a 5 minute relay, American patients have found answers in many tangential industries like homeopathy and other non-traditional modes of practice or taken their dollars off shore. Patients are more than willing to pay cash for the time and expertise of non-traditional accountable providers. Even vitamin stores do very well even in a down market. Patients want to own their health and they want to invest in their own lives.
The US can provide access to affordable medical care to the world by creating a transparent market place where patients are empowered to invest in the care that is best for them and doctors are empowered to provide quality care by competing to be the best. The power that comes with a trusting patient-doctor relationship and the quality of care that results from a consumer driven market place is the potent pill that will thrust this economy out of the doldrums and into the stratosphere.
Marcy Zwelling, MD FACEP
President, American Academy of Private Physicians (formally the Society for Innovative Medical Practice Design)
562-900-2650 (iphone)

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