Let’s play the what-would-it-look-like game. I am going to envision a health-care system that would appeal to me and let’s see how well it matches up with what you want.
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When I get sick, I want to go to the doctor without making an appointment, walk right in, show them my ID card, and wait no more than 10 minutes to see a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, etc.
My ID card will link me to my medical records and make it easy for my doctor to see everything he/she needs to know. So, even if my regular doctor is unavailable, the substitute doctor can get up-to-speed really fast.
I want my doctor to be proactive. Don’t help me after I get sick or injured but tell me how to avoid getting in that state in the first place. Ask me about my diet and exercise, tell me where I am failing, and give me coupons and incentives to do the right things.
Remember – this is my fantasy, not yours. My doctor is going to hand out coupons for free frozen yogurts.
Maybe I will pay a small amount at the office visit. Maybe five dollars. Why? Because it’s just enough to discourage folks from camping out in the doctor’s office yet so small that it will not be a barrier to anyone.
Does everyone need an ID card? No. It’s only meant as an aid to link me to my records. Anyone can come in at any time to get service. No questions.
I can hear the extreme right-wing heads exploding now.
Think about it. If we eliminate all the shenanigans over paperwork, insurance and qualifications, we will save immense resources in administration costs. That can be applied to providing better health care.
But I offer this. Let’s have true immigration reform at the same time. Let’s control the border, assure who comes and goes, and force respect for our laws.
This will prevent mass migration just to get free health care (I don’t think that most illegal immigrants come here strictly for health care anyway).
Other than the five bucks for my office visit, there is no other charge. There is no “EOB” (explanation of benefits) where the insurance company denies your claim and you spend countless hours fighting with them.
In fact, life is simplified for the doctor’s office as well. A simple office visit is billed at a standard rate. Extra services and supplies are added in. On a routine basis, the charges will be audited for accuracy and veracity.
If you are caught making fraudulent charges, the system will no longer compensate the office. If you cheat, you are done.
How do we pay for it? The moment we begin working, we are assessed a percentage tax that remains consistent throughout our working lives. When you are younger, the cost is less because you make less. As you age, the amount you pay goes up primarily because you earn more.
However, the percentage is the same. No “penalties” if you don’t have insurance. Just tax everyone the same and you are automatically in.
Sounds onerous and socialistic? Yep. It’s just as socialist as Social Security, and no one is barking about that. You pay in and you receive benefit out. Same concept.
If I have to go in the hospital, my treatment may depend on my ailment. If I need immediate attention, it should be given without hesitation. However, if I have a condition that is not urgent, say a knee replacement, maybe I can wait a month or two.
If I want cosmetic surgery, I will have to buy a supplemental policy that covers that. And it won’t be cheap. Or, suppose I don’t want to go to Henry Mayo but prefer Stanford. My choice can be augmented by a private policy that the public does not need to pay for.
When my healing is complete, I can go home and not worry about what the mailman is going to bring. Large and confusing bills will not be coming. Maybe just a single summary statement that lets me know how much it all cost.
The poor will be covered. Maybe we can save some costs by getting health care to some folks earlier, thereby avoiding costly problems later on.
“Pre-existing conditions” would be a forgotten term relegated to the dustbin right next to health insurance companies.
I also want a health care system that is free of politics. No more ludicrous “right” versus “left” debates. Just a system that focuses on prevention, cost-effective outcomes, and healthy people.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and more hate mail can be sent to [email protected]