Friday, January 09, 2009
Fixing the economy - Part II. Not sure how many parts there are going to be, but then again, by the time I finish this part we could already be in a depression. Seriously speaking, we need to fill in the black holes of the US economy. The first real black hole was addressed in my previous note regarding creditcards and what to do with them. The second major black hole for americans is healthcare costs. Its going to take an inordinate amount of time to put in a system that allows americans to have a universal system. Call me pessimistic, but there are too many self serving forces that will prevent a good national system of healthcare. The healthcare system may be the only one where trickle down economics really works. All of the money trickles down from the american worker and corporations down into the malpractice attorney hands. Of course that is only part of it. So where do we start when it comes to fixing such a monumental problem. Lets start with something easily digestible that Congress can understand. Give Americans a tax credit for getting a yearly checkup. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing illness before it happens will save tremendous amount of money. You have to give us an incentive to see a doctor because (speaking as a man) if it ain't broke, I don't want to know if it needs fixing. Second, Congress needs to earmark more funds for early detection of illness. Our whole medical system is predicated on fixing a problem after all the dominoes have fallen. We need to stop the first domino from falling. Better detection leads to better cures. Next we need to create incentives for americans to be and act healthier and create disincentives for non-healthy activities. We need to institute programs that promote local grown, organic and minimally processed foods. Give at register discounts to individuals that purchase designated healthy foods. These can be offset by increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol. If you raised the price of cigarettes to $10 a pack, it would stop a lot of young people from starting and would give a lot more older people a reason to stop. Give a taxbreak on smoking cessation products and programs. Give people taxbreaks to join healthclubs. We are wasting valuable dollars on preventable diseases. I'm just as guilty as most of america in this regard. I can't afford to change, but I can't afford not to. This would help. The second part of the healthcare issue is liability. There desperately needs to be a cap on malpractice awards. There should also be a non-biased ratings board and review board. Doctors are only governed by doctors and as we've seen by the way banks operated recently, its not good practice. In order to reduce costs, bad doctors need to find a new line of work. They can't just get a slap on the wrist. Its the few really bad ones that cause the most grief. Its unfortunate but a doctors job is a life or death proposition every time they make a decision. Everybody is different and sometimes things that work for 99% of the population don't work for you and that can have tragic consequences. I don't think there is a doctor (other than certfiably insane ones) who intend to kill a patient or want their patient to die. Yet with hindsight we look at everything a doctor has done and point to a potential area with which we can disagree and sue the begeezus out him. Are we right to sue? Sometimes, but every time? There needs to be a specialized court system that can really evaluate malpractice rather than rubberstamp juries who have no qualms about punishing the insurance companies. People don't realize how these awards affect them. Good doctors can not get malpractice insurance. They quit the business. Guess what that leaves? If this is the time for change, then lets see real change. Change our health, change our life.