We begin at the source of skyrocketing health care costs - the pharmaceutical companies, and the medical equipment manufacturers -
- Pharmaceuticals (prescription drugs) in the US cost anywhere between 3 and 10 times what the same drugs are being sold for in both the northern and southern parts of North America (for those of you who failed geography, that's Canada and Mexico). And, in 3rd World, or "developing" nations, the disparity becomes even greater! Why is it that the USA gets to pay the premium price for necessary medical supplies when they are created within our own borders? Because the PharmCo's think we can afford the outrageous prices, and that we should pay for all their R&D. Granted, Research and Development of medicines is an expensive proposition, but why do Americans have to bear those costs alone? And why do the PharmCo's seem to believe they should recoup those expenses in the first 6 months of sales? Those costs are passed on at your neighborhood pharmacy as well as at your local hospital. Why does the same Band Aid, or USP formula aspirin that sells for $4.00 per hundred at Rite Aid or Wal-Mart, cost you $5.00 per pill on your hospital bill? Because those of us who actually pay our medical bills (with or without medical insurance), pay our medical bills... and we foot the costs for those who do not!
- Medical equipment costs are horribly expensive, and no hospital is considered a hospital these days if they don't have a CT Scanner or MRI Scanner. R&D costs to develop safe and effective medical equipment are at least equal to those of the pharmaceutical industry. Where is it written that being a manufacturer of anything is cheap? A "decent" Magnetic Resonance Instrument (aka Magnetic Resonance Imager) costs your hospital anywhere from $1 million to $3 million, and a top of the line MRI is even more than! How much profit is in those prices, after including R&D and marketing costs? I could only find one figure on that, and it was $800,000... but there was no posted figure on at which price-point the system sold.
Now, consider that registered nurses (RN) nationwide with 2-9 years experience, on the average, are being paid between $22 and $32 per hour, and the average MD earns $171,000 per year. These factors all drive the cost of health care upwards. Medicines are necessary, and when you really need medicine it's probably worth whatever the cost, as are the hospital equipment and personnel. However... when the practical value of something exceeds it's affordability, most people are caught "on the horns of a dilemma". Among the uninsured there are generally only three options:
1. Do without treatment and suffer the consequences.
2. Get the treatment and pay the bill off at $10 per month for the rest of your life.
3. Get the treatment and say to yourself, "Illegals don't pay for treatment, why should I?", and then don't pay the bill - making the cost of treatment for those of us who DO pay our medical bills even more expensive.
Those of us with private medical insurance are generally thankful for it when we need it, and most of us can - and will - handle even the most expensive of deductibles when given a reasonable period of time in which to pay it off.
Then we have those who don't worry about health insurance - the rich and famous. For the most part these people (the Rockefellers, Morgans, Tom Cruises and Elton Johns of the world) can afford to be "self-insurers" - sitting on their hordes of money until they find a practical need for it.
Finally we have that group which breathes the rarified air of Washington D.C. - our elected officials. They have no vested interest in reforming health care, inasmuch as they pay for nothing when they become ill. Our Congress has the sweetest health care plan in the world... and WE pay for it! Don't we all wish we had jobs where we could vote for our own pay and benefits packages like our Congress does? Why would they be concerned about "what is best" for the rest of us?
Do we really need our government, which failed in their attempt to operate a combination brothel and bar in Nevada a few years back, to run our health care system? Seized by the IRS for tax delinquency, our government geniuses managed a previously very successful and well-known brothel into bankruptcy. How incompetent must one be to fail at selling sex and alcohol?
If you have read this far you may be asking yourself, "Okay, Mister Smartypants, what needs to be done?" And my Pollyanna-ish answer would be (here's where the government gets involved, but in a structural sense, rather than an administrative one), let our Congress pass legislation requiring that :
1. If you want to "cap and trade" something, cap the costs of medicines. Global pricing would be a good first step, rather than Americans paying anywhere from three to fifty times more than people in other parts of the world. Why should we, alone, bear the burden of paying for Pfizer or Lilli's R&D costs? And "because we can afford it" is an unacceptable answer!
2. Medicine and medical equipment must be made available to the community at a reasonable cost. My "law" would require that profiteering in medical supplies and equipment end immediately. The profit margins on medical supplies, equipment and services would be held to the generally accepted retail figure of 40% of production and delivery costs.
3. The government would NOT be involved in the day-to-day administration of any health care plan, much less create a national health care plan. (Our government has ruined the Social Security program into which we all pay, and now they want us to let them run another program into the ground with our money? I would guess that the majority of us are stupid enough to let them get away with this BS "pie in the sky" dream of Obama's.)
4. Immediately eliminate any and all taxpayer funded medical treatment for non-citizens! If they don't belong here legally - other than in jail for violating our border - they are entitled to exactly nothing.
These ideas would be just the beginning, not the be-all and end-all answer, to reforming our health care industry. Everything needs a starting point - I'll leave the details to somebody smarter than I.
I could be wrong about this... but it just seems like common sense to me.