An Alternative to Obamacare

In physics scientists seek to solve the mysteries of reality through mathematics, but if a solution involves a complicated convoluted mathematical equation, it’s generally assumed to be wrong.  Often the right solution involves a simple elegant equation.

Healthcare in America is complicated, bureaucratic and expensive.  I’m wondering if there’s a simpler solution to Obamacare.  To be upfront, I’m a liberal and believe all people have a right to quality healthcare.

To simplify the problem to its most elegant equation I’ve wondered if we shouldn’t take a totally different approach to subsidized healthcare.  I think the federal government should just build and run free hospitals and clinics.  Instead of creating a complex reimbursement system, they should just hire doctors and nurses and provide absolutely free healthcare to those who don’t have insurance.

Today, most hospitals ask if you have insurance, and if you don’t, they send you away.  These free hospitals would ask, and if you do, they’ll send you away.

The federal government should build a free HMO type system that works to bring down the cost of healthcare.  It should use every trick in the book to save on costs, while maximizing preventive heath measures.  Employ no remedies that aren’t effective.  Tell all patients that their information will be used for statistical and scientific studies.  This system size should give it clout to get cheaper drugs and equipment.

Much of the cost of healthcare is the bureaucracy to maintain it.  If the government learned to build efficient hospitals and clinics, that hired medical professionals at salaries scaled to reward cost effective productivity, this system could compete with the commercial healthcare systems and help bring down the overall costs of healthcare.

We could keep all existing healthcare systems and just phase in this idea as an experiment.  The new system should not contract with private contractors to do the job.  The new system should aim to be minimalistic as an experiment in efficiency.  The idea could be started by finding locations in the country with extremely high uninsured population and opening a hospital to test its impact.  Be scientific.  Don’t build the second hospital until the lessons are learned from the first.

Innovate with technology.  Instead of having people wait in waiting rooms, use texting or phone messages.  Develop online prescreening questioning.  Push the concept of home medical monitoring.  Create convenience shops for collecting blood, doing x-rays and other simply diagnostic procedures.  Use computers like IBM’s Watson to analyze medical charts and test results, or even prescreen patients.  Develop a universal healthcare record system that allows patients to record health diaries and drug use, along with any daily home monitoring, and their diet and exercise habits.  Test the theory that diet can improve many medical conditions.

This concept should be an experiment in lowering healthcare costs.  Do everything possible so that all money spent goes directly to actual healthcare and as little as possible to administrative costs.  Start small and build on success.

JWH – 9/8/13

6 Responses

  1. You know, Jim, Medicare already does a great job with this. It has a much lower overhead than private insurance, and it’s very popular with the people who use it. One simple solution would have been to open up Medicare to everyone.

    Of course, younger people would have had to pay for coverage, and an individual mandate would still have been necessary. Also, given the difficulty of getting anything past the Republicans in Congress (not a single Republican voted for what had been the Republican health care plan before the Democrats agreed to go along with it, too), it’s doubtful that anything else would have had a chance.

    • Yeah, most people don’t know how efficient Medicare really is, but I don’t think we can expand it to cover everyone. I wouldn’t mess with Medicare at all right now. What we want is to help people without insurance without spending a lot of money. My idea is just one possible experiment. Because Medicare still supports our present healthcare system means it also supports very high cost medicine. Most people want for-profit medicine, and their own private insurance even though that system has escalating costs that will eventually break it. I’m suggesting one possible alternative that could change the mix of things. Have a free system that competes with a profit system in hopes that it’s cost saving techniques will eventually be used by the for-profit systems. Obamacare isn’t a bad system, but I don’t think it will do enough to bring down costs because it supports the way we do things now.

      I think Americans want to two-tier system – one for the haves and the other for the have nots. I would prefer a universal system, but right now America doesn’t want that. As long as we have millions of people without healthcare we’re in need of finding a solution. It would be wonderful if Obamacare works, but I’m not sure if the Republicans will let it. I do have to wonder if the Republicans just want to let millions go without healthcare. But at some point even the conservatives will have to address the problem.

      • If you’re a liberal, I’m a Hottentot.
        You are arguing ..”To each according to his need, etc.
        You are suggesting we ignore the history of failed schemes that cost ten’s of millions of lives.
        No, that is not being a liberal. A liberal could think of some improved medical system, but you skip the thinking part and go right to the conclusion that someone who disagrees is someone who wants to deny medical care to half the country.
        Did you have a stroke? That is the stupidest idea ever regurgitated into this new century. Lenin in dead, Lennon is dead. Put down the SciFi, bury the cat, go get some exercise. You have just crossed the line into the world of useless old coots. And for God’s sake, keep away from the young.

        BillyPilgrim

      • Billy, I’m not a communist. Communism is so over. Even the communists aren’t communists anymore. But we must face facts, all countries became socialist to a degree in the 20th century, as well as capitalistic. All countries are now a mix of economic engines. All countries try to find the right blend of solutions.

        We have three main economic engines: capitalism, socialism and nonprofit. Capitalism is free enterprise. Socialism is the economic engine generated by government spending – collective enterprise. And nonprofit are charity, philanthropy, and other systems paid for by individuals such as clubs, art patronage, etc.

        Right now all universal healthcare solutions we’ve considered are the government giving money to for profit capitalistic systems, even Medicare. I’m just suggesting we try and alternate idea, run some healthcare facilities under the nonprofit engine and see if it lowers costs. It may or may not work. It’s a scientific experiment.

        By the way Billy, I appreciate your constructive criticism, but I think you’d get your point across clearer if you focused on the idea at hand and not the writer. Can you make a case that free clinics won’t be cheaper to operate than any reimbursement system?

  2. You said:
    “It would be wonderful if Obamacare works, but I’m not sure if the Republicans will let it. I do have to wonder if the Republicans just want to let millions go without healthcare.” That is the ad hominem attack I responded to; a mindless accusation that half the country wants millions to do without medical care.
    Seriously, I might get a group together for a trip to Russia next year and maybe I should take you along. You need to open your eyes.

    BillyPilgrim

    • Billy, I agree that saying people who don’t want Obamacare doesn’t mean they don’t want a national healthcare system, but I think it’s close enough. If conservatives won’t support a system designed by Republicans, what would they want?

      Bring up Russia is besides the point.

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