I’ve been listening to a lot of noise about how Medicare is going to bankrupt our nation. I keep hearing we can’t afford to provide health care and we might as well give up now.
The only problem with this argument is that it supposes that everything that exists today will be how it’ll be ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. I’m going to suggest that you ask yourself this question, “What was medical care like twenty or thirty years ago?” Do you think it looks anything like it does today?
Life doesn’t stand still.
For us to believe the sky is falling when it relates to medical care we have to believe nothing will change and everything will be the same in the future. That hasn’t happened in the past and I doubt it will in the future.
Have you noticed that the world seems to be changing faster? How about the rate of technological change we’ve seen in just the last thirty years? If anything, I bet we’ll see change move even faster over the next thirty years. I think that will dramatically change how we deliver medical care and reduce the cost for doing so.
We are on the verge of the most amazing medical advances in the history of humankind.
I spend a lot of time rooting around looking for what’s next. When I get a chance to speak with anyone who’s involved in medical research they keep telling me “you ain’t seen anything yet.” I believe this.
I’ve been told by friends in Research Triangle in North Carolina that we’re on the verge of making Alzheimer’s a chronic and manageable disease. If this is true, can you imagine what a game changer that would be for managing medical costs? What about cancer research? There’s so much interesting activity that it’s hard to believe that we won’t continue making strides. For many people diabetes has already become a very manageable chronic condition. Again, there’s no reason to believe that diabetes care won’t also continue to get better.
We haven’t even started leaning out our medical system.
If you want to see waste in action just go into your doctors office and look in the back room. You’ll usually see a group of people just trying to code and get reimbursed for medical insurance claims. I can’t believe that in the future this problem will go away. It makes sense to me that soon all doctors’ offices will use electronic medical records that communicate with insurance companies for reimbursement.
We deliver medical care in a backwards manner. Those with chronic conditions have to manage their own care. Not only is this bad for health outcomes, it’s terribly wasteful. The movement towards concierge medical care will prove that providing real management for chronic conditions is cost effective and will save money.
Eventually we’ll get everyone insured.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed the news coming out about health exchanges over the past several weeks? It appears that the medical cost for insuring all is going down, not up. Take California for example. The insurance companies in California originally said medical costs would go up by as much as 40% because of insurance exchange requirements.
The rates in California have now been released. It looks like the rates will be going down by about 15% instead of up by 40%. If we were to insure everyone and everyone paid something into the system we would see rates go down even more.
There is a principle called adverse selection. This means that it’s a bad thing when only people who need insurance buy insurance. When we insure everyone there is a large group of people who will be buying insurance and not using it. This helps control costs for everyone. It’s why the exchange prices are coming in much less than anticipated.
What about advances in medical technologies?
This is a wild card. I don’t know what advances are in our future. I only know we’re going to have a bunch of them. I have to believe that these advances are going to improve our health and lower our costs.
I just think it’s silly to think that our future medical costs are expected to stay the same. Things don’t stay the same. They change and tend to get less expensive. So, my belief is we should concentrate on making these future scenarios come true more quickly. What about you, what do you think?
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