Healthcare Costs – The Real Problem

September 11th, 2009

Welcome to our discussion on reducing healthcare costs. 

The healthcare system in the U.S. is among the best in the world in terms of quality.  However, its costs per capita are among the highest in the world.  Any healthcare reform involving universal care will need to focus on reducing costs (adding competition alone will not solve the problem) or else we will have the same problem we have now but on a much larger scale.

Some of the comments from the Healthcare Reform discussion included cost cutting ideas.  Here is a summary as well as my take on each (in italics):

1.  Add competition to private insurers through a “public option” (i.e. government sponsored health insurance).  Competition always brings down prices, but I believe we need more fundamental change if we are to achieve a healthcare system that provides both quality and fairness.  See #7 (below) for more information on the “fundamental change” I think is necessary. 

 

2.  Add competition by allowing insurance carriers to sell their products across state lines.  Again, increasing competition will bring down prices, although I understand this could also put smaller carriers out of business.  This idea deserves more discussion and consideration.

 

3.  Reduce emergency room costs by placing clinics in the ER’s vicinity so non-emergency cases can be funneled there. One third of all ER visits are made by uninsured.   I wonder if the costs of providing free clinics to the uninsured through tax dollars would off-set the decrease in insurance premiums that we might see as a result.  It might backfire in that it could encourage people to drop their insurance.  Regardless, this is a creative idea that is worth exploring.   Thanks to cmoney for this idea.

 

4.  Implement mandatory use of Electronic Medical Records.  The cost savings associated with this are detailed in my proposal. 

5.  Tax “junk food” such as soda, Twinkies, potato chips and fast food.  Despite the fact that defining “junk food” would be difficult, I love this idea.  Thanks to Jay1972 for this idea.

 

6.  Tax restaurants that use deep fryers (e.g. McDonald’s).  Again, I think this is a great idea.  Let’s encourage healthy eating habits and use the tax revenue to subsidize premiums.

 

7.  Base health insurance premiums on an individual’s health rather than on age and genetic predisposition.   Obesity is currently accounting for 10% of all healthcare costs in this country.  See http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/629419.html?chan=autos_executive+health+–+lifestyle+subindex+page_health+news

If you want to know why other countries such as France and Germany have lower healthcare costs per capita, start here.  For more details on how and why changing how premiums are calculated would work, please visit my proposal. 

 I welcome any additional ideas or comments on the ones already given.  Thanks for participating.

- Erik Marquis

Healthcare Reform – Your input matters!

August 7th, 2009

Welcome to my Healthcare Reform Blog.   This is arguably the most important piece of legislation of my lifetime and I have yet to hear a single decent proposal thus far.  My proposal is not meant to be a finished product:  I wrote this proposal and created this blog in the hopes of sparking some debate.

Please know that I will not use your email addresses for any reason without your permission.  Also, please be respectful of all ideas and opinions that are shared.  Thank you for being part of the solution!

- Erik Marquis, President/E Billing Solutions LLC

Healthcare Reform Proposal 8-14-09