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Healthcare as an Industry, not a System

Whatever happened to the industrious healthcare view?  We are so concerned about the broken ‘system,’ and why the ‘system’ is broken in the first place.  We should start, readily, in the belief that healthcare should be an industry, not a system, where rules and regulations outweigh economic truths of supply, demand and customer satisfaction.

One failure comes in the way we pay for our healthcare, or better yet, the way we pay someone else to pay for our healthcare.  Insurance was designed to be just that, insurance – against the catastrophic.  Today, however, insurance pays for everything, from colds and sniffles to scrapes and checkups.  Aside from inflating a relatively minute industry (medical billing) to gargantuan proportions, it has made it so that even the receptionists have no idea what a bill will be when I go to the doctor.  Both pediatricians my son sees have had no idea, when asked for a bill, what the charges are in order to pay in advance.  One did attempt to get out a calculator and fumbled a total of three numbers in before summarily giving up and letting me know the bill would be out after the insurance had ‘paid up.’

I do not blame her for not knowing, why should she know?  Everything goes through insurance, and I am quite sure I was the only person who had asked in probably quite some time, if ever.

If cost were more readily visible and applicable to the consumer, who would dare not ask what something cost?  If you drove to McDonalds to purchase a large order for a family gathering, would you even consider anything without knowing the price beforehand?  Perhaps if you had ‘lunch’ insurance it would pay for a pittance, or even 75-80% of the inflated cost due to having someone dedicated to the new food insurance billing office, and you would order anyway and not care what it cost.

This is how our healthcare ‘system’ works.  It’s almost surreal if you think about its application anywhere other than healthcare.

For an interesting perspective, look at this netiq publication, http://download.netiq.com/CMS/WHITEPAPER/NetIQIndustryWP_HC.pdf  where (on page number 1 in fact) it lists the ‘payer’ (read: insurance) as anyone other than the consumer (who is listed at the very end of the ‘payer’ list of drivers, or reasons they operate.)  Now that is telling, other places put the consumer first, but in healthcare, ‘market consolidation’ and ‘aging population’ are more important.

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