Ten steps to REAL healthcare reform

Source: The Inter-Rationale
by Steve Trinward

I found this while browsing old files, written back in about 2010, when I was working with ISIL and editing the Medical Freedom Channel. Seems still relevant today …

[NOTE: This piece began as a “twelve-step program” (an analogy all too appropriate, since the REAL problem with healthcare in America is NOT that some don’t have “coverage” … but that too many of us think we MUST—for every little thing that comes along to threaten the physical, mental and/or emotional states-of-being of our corporeal-forms!) This “addiction” is behind most of the present chaos, leading to a system controlled by and geared to huge institutions and entrenched bureaucracies, who are by their nature slow to adapt to change and stubborn to seek innovation. Only impending doom (e.g., Big Auto unable to sell cars at the prices their employee-health insurance costs demand) has provided enough incentive to shift the paradigms. I attempted (cleverly or not) to tie each to one of the “twelve steps to sobriety” as presented in Alcoholics Anonymous and its many spinoffs. (Example: “Step One: We admitted we had a problem, an addiction to “insulatory” health insurance, covering every aspect of our wellness, and that we were powerless to change that habit …”) On further review, I decided the message-value outweighed the “cuteness factor” in importance; I’ll let you readers make the obvious jokes as you brainstorm solutions to each dilemma.]

Herewith, Ten Steps to true healthcare/wellness reform:

1. Shift away from the “employee benefit” model, to one that the “employee” controls, regardless of job held … or none at all. Let “insurance” be linked to the person, not the employer. If necessary, create artificial “pools” (based on neighborhood, combined small-businesses, affinities, etc), to amortize the risk of the occasional serious malady, but encourage “policyholders” to seek catastrophic-only “coverage” against huge financial liabilities, and pay for their own “maintenance.”

2. Move the focus of healthcare away from aftercare, hospices and long-term maintenance of existing “diseased” conditions … toward prevention, early diagnosis and actually CURING illnesses. Encourage self-responsibility and wiser care of the carcass

3. Open the ceiling on Medical Savings Accounts, to achieve (for starters) the “$5,000 deductible” level (with consequent lower premium-payments) that many individuals could manage financially, were it only allowed as a full deduction under the tax-system.

4. Stop “insulating” the insurance-process; let annual physicals and precautionary doctor visits become the responsibility of the individual (charged accordingly at the lowest cost possible, making the usual services-overkill only a last resort when actual trouble is discovered).

5. Extend tax credits (even rewards?) to healing centers (hospitals included) who DO NOT duplicate expensive services already existing in their communities (MRIs, CAT scans, etc Encourage “specialization” in such capital-intensive service offerings.

6. Encourage companies to pay people what they are really worth (not “benefits” tacked onto the wage), as well as rewarding them for taking care of themselves.

7. Legalize marijuana and other naturally growing substances that have shown some positive effect in healing (relieving pain, suppressing nausea, etc.)

8. Use incentive-programs to move Big Pharma away from developing drugs that only mask symptoms, and toward those that actually cure diseases. Also, establish SOME boundaries on advertising (if only by enforcing “fraud” laws more assertively and effectively?). Encourage us to stop “seeking the right pill” to solve whatever issue is present in our lives, while raising consciousness to get away from the “ask your doctor” modality.

9. Defund the Food & Drug Administration, moving toward certification processes, etc. Let the prospective consumers of “healthcare” and wellness have easy access to the fact, so they may perform their own “due diligence” or hire someone else they trust to do it.

10. Open “insurance” (if it must exist at all) to ANY treatment that has demonstrated some level of effectiveness (acupuncture, therapeutic massage, medical qigong, chiropractic, osteopathy, etc.)—and let the market truly decide what works.

Summary: Some of these things may involve tax credits and/or direct subsidies in order for them to work effectively. Alternatively, it might take the shape of a whole new area of non-profit foundations, dedicated to encouraging (through awards and prizes?) healthier behavior, at both individual and institutional levels. (Doing so, so that both the donors and the recipients receive full tax-deductibility/exemption on the funds, might be a large part of this.)

One factor in all this is that Big Government/Insurance/Corporati/Medical may at this point have so thoroughly distorted the “market” for healthcare, it MAY require some short-term intervention on the other side of the scales … just to right the ship enough so it can get back to floating on its own.

[IMO, a lot of hardcore libertarians often overlook this fact, in demanding that NO actions may be taken that correct the course, even in small measure and on a temporary basis, if they involve taxing or other coercive methods. The most powerful thing about the 2004 restructuring of the Libertarian Party Platform was the inclusion of a “Transition” segment in each plank; in this case, I’d hope any intelligent program would include some form of “encouragement” (short-term, and finite in both scope and cost), promoting a combination of private industry, charity and other NGO entities—focused on “helping to fix this mess” voluntarily. (I suspect, however, that only tax-breaks would actually convince enough of them, and provide enough incentive, to take serious action.)]

Footnotes:

1. This will likely require a whole different approach to “insurance pooling” to limit risk management: small businesses banding together; “guild” organizations springing up among similar white-collar “trades”; etc.

2. Whether the “incentive” in this case is a direct tax-credit (dollar-for-dollar against actual expenses) or some means of sheltering even more “income” (as a reward for promoting healthier behavior on a wider scale) … is yet to be determined.

3. For those who cannot afford such, BEGIN by putting a floor on F.I.C.A. payments, allowing the money to be diverted to such MSAs – even for the lowest incomes. The Boston Tea Party already has this piece as a platform plank; I’m proud to say that I wrote the original proposal several years ago.

4. Meanwhile, DO NOT turn such preventative visits into cash-cow opportunities; make them easily affordable (whether by lowered charges or through direct subsidization, via charity or other private function).

5. Let’s make it downright “socially irresponsible” for a hospital to insist on buying all the latest toys, just because the place down the street has one! Encourage diversity in treatment methods, and use boycotts and similar (non-coercive, yet rather effective) methods to promote this.

6. Example: Whole Foods pays for its employees deductibles, not their health-policy premiums, although the policy is still available through the group/employer, thereby reducing the rates somewhat. If the employee happens not to use all of that deductible in a given year, (s)he pockets the remainder.

7. In fact, unless they’ve been proven to be mortally poisonous, ALL “natural cures” should be legalized—just have any claims be well documented if the vendor seeking certification!

8. Perhaps here’s one place where a legitimate FDA/FTC function would exist: requiring “hard evidence” (double-blind experiments, long studies) before mass-media advertising was to be permitted—instead of merely protecting the Big Pharma oligopoly, preventing natural-healing methods from presenting empirical or testimonial data that merely says, “give it a try; it may work!

9. Once again, this might be accomplished through dollar-for-dollar tax credits for good behavior; with some level of oversight for legitimacy … “Market” distortion is considerable here already.

10. Again, this might take some seed funding (from whatever source) to change the paradigms. Perhaps private foundations could be developed to raise (tax-emempt, for both donees and recipients) funds for rewarding good behavior.

11. If all FDA functions were transferred to private agency — a la Underwriters Laboratories for the electrical industry — the only caveats would be cases of demonstrated mortal-danger or experimentally shown debilitating side-effects.