By Dr David Laing Dawson
Watching CNN, the reports, the discussions, the arguments, the experts, the talking heads, the Democrats and Republicans, Obamacare, The Affordable Care Act, Repeal and Replace, phase 1, phase 2, pre-existing conditions, medicare expansion/contraction – the whole exhausting American Healthcare discussion – two things come to mind:
The first is the obvious. For God’s sake just adopt the Government single payer option. Join the rest of the advanced nations. It is cheaper. It is better. Per person you already pay more in taxes to support your limited medicare and all the other complicated subsidies than we in Canada pay for the whole shebang. We are healthier. And it would free up a lot of administrators, accountants, politicians, and lawyers to do something useful.
The second was a little more subtle. All this exhausting time and energy arguing about, and designing, some polyglot public/private health care system is really not about health. It’s about an insurance scheme that will pay doctors and hospitals for medical fixing of acute illnesses and accidents. Medical fixing is just a part of being and staying healthy.
If you could settle on a single payer option then much of that time, energy, administrative overload could be better used to address health in all its complexities: prevention, social determinants, secondary prevention, tertiary prevention, maintenance, management of chronic illness, diet, obesity, lifestyle, addictions, mental health….. at the moment a kid with Cystic Fibrosis in Canada will outlive her counterpart in the US by 10 years.
There is one other aspect to the current American “health care system” of which I have lately become more aware. While the main concern remains large segments of the American population receiving no medical care apart from Emergency visits, or able to afford only partial treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, there is another side to this coin:
Over investigation and over treatment for those who can afford “the best”. Your celebrities often get shitty medical care, from Marilyn Monroe, to Michael Jackson to Prince to, apparently, Donald J. Trump. This is also true of many of your highly specialized for profit residential treatment facilities. Many offer some real medicine mixed with a lot of flimflam, with length of stay and investigations determined by the money available.
For Profit has no business in medical investigation or treatment. Inevitably it means many will do without and many will get too much. And the burden, ultimately, still falls on the taxpayer.