SUBMITTED BY DAVID BEAVER
Restructure the System of Insurance and Healthcare Services
One possible way to reduce to the cost of health insurance is to reform the business structure itself. In the simplest sense, you could say that health insurance should be more like car insurance. For starts, full coverage health insurance should only be offered in the case of catastrophic events. In forcing companies to pay for the ongoing care we are not really buying health insurance so much as a free for all health warranty. Everyone pays the same no matter the cost and risk they incur and companies are forced to pay out regularly, thus forcing them to collect regularly. Naturally, they will raise their premiums across the board to keep up with the demand. You could also make the industry more competitive by offering sales across state lines. There seems to be little benefit in the federal government standing the way of this practice and thus limiting the pool of competition.
Health insurance companies could also adopt a fairer system by rewarding healthy customers in the same way the Auto Insurance companies reward safe drivers to provide incentives that would incur lower future costs.
Finally, when you visit a medical clinic for a regular check-up or to discuss a regular medical issue, how often do you actually see a doctor. In recent times during a visit, you are more likely to see a Physicians Assistant or a Nurse. Indeed there are many medical questions that can be answered and basic medical procedures that can be provided even just by a nurse. So why can't they start their own private practices to provide basic healthcare without the expense of a doctor? A doctor is usually only seen as a more serious issue or to make a referral. By separating these structures we could see new systems come into play with less administrative costs. Imagine an ongoing healthcare clinic that provided basic services on the basis of a membership, similar to a gym.
Give Alternative Medicine a Chance
Dr. Mimi Guarneri has been an award-winning cardiologist and medical professor for many years. She has also been a supporter of incorporating more alternative to medicine into our system. One advantage of western medicine, she points out, is that it is strong in its interventionist approach. In other words, western medicine is good when a problem or catastrophe already exists. It specializes, as she says, in "Taking a hold of physiology" It is not, however, strong in the area of prevention nor does it addresses overall health. It often attacks the symptoms of a disease before trying to cure or prevent it. Alternative and foreign systems like Ayurvedic and Tradition Chinese Medicine tend to take a more holistic approach.
Contrary to popular belief these are not programs in which you can earn a certificate online for a hundred bucks. On the contrary, these disciplines of medicine are complex and exhaustive and often take just as much time and effort to complete as comparable fields in western medicine. When most people hear the word "holistic" they often hear a dirty word. People often conjure up images of energy healers burning incense and placing a quartz crystal on the forehead of the patient while reciting a prayer to the goddess of nature. The truth is "holistic" simply means you are looking at the overall health and lifestyle of a patient rather than at specific medical conditions. This approach has been proven to be more effective and prevention and would thus dramatically drive down costs.
This could also lead to cheaper alternatives to expensive medications that may also carry unhealthy side effects. Someone suffering from anxiety or sleep problems may enjoy a St. John's Wort supplement or a cup of valerian tea as an herbal alternative to a dangerous sleeping pill, or antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac, which have brought dangerous side-effects and have even caused suicide in patients prescribed them.
This is simply to say a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine is inferior to one with a multi-faceted approach that is executed on a patient-by-patient basis. The latter would improve the lives of patients and reduce the costs their healthcare needs incur.