April 25, 2011
Currently, we are spending 20% of our GDP on healthcare (4% for medicare, 1.5% for Medicaid, 14.5% for private insurance). This means that one out of five dollars is spent on health care. Insurance premiums have increased by 73% just since 2000 (currently the average premium is $10,800) while wages have only increased 15%.
I just read a brief interview with Clairborne Johnston, MD in the June issue of Neurology Reviews. He said, “Since 1970, there has been an 18-fold increase in the cost of health care in the US and per patient spending is expected to cost $12,000 a year by 2015. Despite this, there is almost no measurable improvement in health with the average life expectancy not changing much over the last century. At this rate, all GDP will to go to health care by 2045.”
Clearly we cannot spend ALL dollars on health care in the year 2045. Something will change before then. Here are some ideas that I have culled from various sources over the past decade of debate on this controversial topic.
Health Care Reform
1) Change the tax code
- change federal tax code and allow individuals to deduct their health expenses just as businesses do
- rethink why employers should have to provide health care benefits; why not simply raise wages and allow employees to purchase their own individual plans
2) Turn health insurance into indemnity insurance
- cover only big cost issues rather trying to have a plan that covers everything (similar to how car insurance operates)
3) Reform Medicare
- raise the age of eligibility to 70
- require copays for visits and on procedures (10-15%); this would prevent the over-use of services or procedures (currently these are a 100% covered benefit)
4) Tort Reform
- 20% of health care budget is spent on legal system (attorney fees, court costs, malpractice insurance premiums, defensive medicine) yet medical outcomes in the US are no better (or worse) than other countries
- meaningful caps on non-economical damages