Friday, July 31, 2009

What Model for Health Care?

We've all heard of Obama's health care plan. I thought I'd toss in my two cents. Let me first say that I love Obama and support almost everything he's done. I think he's a brilliant and effective leader who is struggling under titanic and opposing forces.

Let me start off with a shocker--an illuminating model for effective health care is not England, or Canada, or France, it's Cuba. Cuba spends a total of $250 per person on health care per year because they spend it on prevention not on symptom-manipulation after the person gets sick. We spend over $6000.

Another, even better, model was ancient China, where you paid the doctor for wellness advice on a monthly basis, but if you got sick, you stopped paying him until you got better.

There must be an incentive in a health care system to keep the patient well rather than sick! The US system makes people sick and keeps them sick for the benefit of the corporate monopolies.

This is the problem with our current system: we are a country run by corporate monopolies--the food industry keeps us sick and the insurance industry, the medical monopoly and the big pharmaceutical companies make a fortune. No one wants us to get well. Private business is always about increasing quantity. Have you ever heard a car dealer say he wants to sell fewer cars? Hospitals want to keep their beds full, insurance companies want more claims, big Pharma wants to sell more pills. You get the idea.

I feel sorry for Obama. If he were to truly fix the broken US system, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies and the medical monopoly would all shrink by 80% to 90% shedding thousands of excess jobs and worsening the economy. The political pressure must be incredible--to put a band-aid on the broken system so that it looks like he did the right thing but that makes even more money for the corporate monopolies.

At this point there is no right thing to do; there is no win-win solution. Obama will have to smoke-screen so that it appears that he helped the American people (and therefore gets re-elected) at the same time improving the profits for the corporate monopolies and therefore appeasing the Republicans and the lobbyists.

Perhaps the best of all the bad alternatives is to let the corporate monopolies fail (that is, create a UK-like one-payer system) while opening up health care to wellness experts who have real influence on law-makers so that the damage done by the US food industry and our chemical industries can be exposed and corrected. The US economy will suffer but at least we will be paying the price now rather than forcing the costs onto our children and grandchildren.

If we simply convert to a one-payer system without (1) emphasizing prevention through education, (2) correcting the broken food system and (3) cleaning up chemical pollution, we will have all the problems the UK has. We can't fix health care without cleaning up the food system and chemical pollution. The cost of manipulating the symptoms of people who are being poisoned though food and pollution is too high for any health insurance system whether private or public.

If we fail to provide the US with good food and a clean environment, if we prop up the current private system and help the corporate monopolies extract even more money from us for ineffective health care, the system will crumble of it's own weight at some point. Our children and grandchildren will pay the price of our cowardice and stupidity.

Take a deep breath,

Dr. Ron