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Public Forum: Band-Aids for health care

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I have never been one to become politically involved, but as a retired health care executive, I can tell you that our health care system is broken and needs to be fixed.

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I don't profess to be an expert on the subject, but a Concordia classmate of mine dedicated his life to studying the finances and delivery of health care, both domestically and internationally. George C. Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente and author of "Health Care Will Not Reform Itself -- A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care," says the following in his book: "Health care in America is badly organized, highly inconsistent, internally dysfunctional, sometimes brilliant, almost always compassionate, close to data-free, amazingly unaccountable in key areas, too often wasteful, too often dangerous, and extremely expensive. Care costs more in America than it does anywhere else in the world -- by every measure. Care costs more per person, more by the unit, more by the dose, more by the disease, and more in the aggregate. We spend far more than anyone else in the world on care, and we are alone among the industrialized countries in not covering all of our people. We need to do a lot better."

The opponents of current House and Senate plans have come up with few meaningful ideas, including tort reform and allowing insurance companies to sell their products across state lines. While I am personally in favor of both proposals, they are simply Band-Aids on a system that is bleeding internally.

Systemic reform, not Band-Aids, is what is needed. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a top adviser to 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain, states, "We will see changes in the way health care is delivered, regardless. The question is whether they are coordinated and done proactively or whether they are done on the ground by providers, insurance companies and employers, reacting to their costs and their risk pools."

It's obvious that the system is not going to meaningfully reform itself, so let's stop playing politics and let's get it done right and let's get it done now.

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