Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Healthcare

I do not think we can apply free market principles in its entirity to healthcare. It could be argued that the "product" offered by a healthcare system is diminishing in nature -- there is only so many healthcare professionals to provide a limited service, that this service can be "priced" by the market, But the expectations of people from the system are wildly erratic. As the excellent program on This American Life reports, people pay X amount of money in the system, and expect the insurance company to show up with a truckload of money at their front door when they suffer any serious ailment.

The Obama solution that "requires" people to have a healthcare is, unfortunately, a non-starter as well, and as Newsweek reports it could even be unconstitutional (I hope it is, otherwise, I will lose a lot of respect for the US Constitution).

Then, a single payer system could be an option here. Hospitals can still be private, people still "choose" which hospitals they go to, in turn, doctors "choose" which medicine to perscribe to their patients, spurring R&D in drug industry.

Another question is, would innovation, cost cutting measures be pursued by anyone in such a system?

I believe it would, hospitals would compete to provide better service for less, therefore pursue new and better technologies.

US needs to look to Canada for inspiration. If this message is a tough swallow, then maybe government sponsoring of healthcare can be seen as "infrastructure" spending. Hell, government builds roads and bridges, so the economy can "flow" over these arteries, right? Well, in a 3rd Wave economy, people are the infrastructure, hence their well-being takes utmost importance.

That said, no system that is "concentrated (in hospitals)", "semi-central" (backed by gov) and are served by "specialists (doctors)" can be truly sufficient in the new age. Personalization, self sufficiency is king in the new world, starting with diagnosis, more involvement of technology will be essential in order to bring healthcare to the 21st century.

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[1] Healthcare is indirectly related to another issue: immigration (as most things are in America). Businesses want cheap labor, that means immigraiton, but will US be able to hand out US citizenship like candy when this means the country now has to provide healthcare for all its citizens, including all new immigrants?

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