Monday, July 26, 2010

Are More Medical Services Coming?

Recently I read The Healing of America by T.R. Reid, a Washington Post journalist whose book provides an in-depth review of the healthcare systems of various countries—information gleaned through his having lived in each country for a while, experiencing the system overall and actually staying in its hospitals (to get his bum shoulder fixed). While the book was written before the Obama health care bill passed, it is still an excellent read and one that will influence your thinking about our own health system.

What brought it to mind at this moment is the story the author tells of the institution of a new national healthcare system in Taiwan, which enfranchised 11 million newly insured members of the population. Suddenly, he reports, new doctors and health services were cropping up all over the country to meet the demand and accommodate these newly eligible members of the population.

As the Obama bill extends healthcare coverage to 32 million newly insured members of the population, why are we not reading about plans to increase the number of physicians and medical services to accommodate those folks who had not formerly been patronizing doctors, clinics and other healthcare providers? If the service providers do not increase, then the whole bill will be regarded as a sham. Where is the action plan? What are the solutions? While I have read an article or two about the problem, the overall communications effort has been paltry. Can we turn up the volume?

Technorati Tags: health care reform, The Healing of America, T.R. Reid, Washington Post, Obama health care bill,
communications, public relations, Makovsky

3 Comments:

Anonymous Ken Banta said...

Excellent point! As a country we are not particularly good at looking outside to learn from others - not only in healthcare but arguably in many other areas of social policy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 7:11:00 AM  
Blogger Rabbi Gil Bashe said...

The Obama plan is a start...it still doesn't address core issues facing America healthcare -- (1) access to physician care, (2) medical innovation and (3) prevention.

Worldclass clinics such as Mayo and Cleveland do not have fee-for-service models paying docs for each little thing they do. Those doctors (whose institutions are among the best in the nation) are salaried. Also, a newly graduated MD has a $250K debt -- they all want to be specialists to pay off their loans. Hence few GP/FPs entering the field and heading to rural America.

Next, innovation. Today, 75% of all medicines prescribed are generics -- a huge savings for consumers. However, biomedical innovation is still needed to tackle the most pressing illnesses. At the same time, the FTC is waging a war against reverse payments. Fortunately, Congress isn't buying their argument. The distraction could drain significant R&D dollars from science.

Last, prevention. Heart disease and stroke remain America's #1 and #3 killers or men and women. Yet we are the fattest nation in the world. The current economic crisis translates into bad eating habits and a fast-food addiction. Ultimately, that means more sickness and death. Invest in school education on healthy eating!

Pouring 32 million Americans into the health system is great. Now the White House has to move beyond image control to substance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Gil Bashe said...

The Obama plan is a start...it still doesn't address core issues facing America healthcare -- (1) access to physician care, (2) medical innovation and (3) prevention.

Worldclass clinics such as Mayo and Cleveland do not have fee-for-service models paying docs for each little thing they do. Those doctors (whose institutions are among the best in the nation) are salaried. Also, a newly graduated MD has a $250K debt -- they all want to be specialists to pay off their loans. Hence few GP/FPs entering the field and heading to rural America.

Next, innovation. Today, 75% of all medicines prescribed are generics -- a huge savings for consumers. However, biomedical innovation is still needed to tackle the most pressing illnesses. At the same time, the FTC is waging a war against reverse payments. Fortunately, Congress isn't buying their argument. The distraction could drain significant R&D dollars from science.

Last, prevention. Heart disease and stroke remain America's #1 and #3 killers or men and women. Yet we are the fattest nation in the world. The current economic crisis translates into bad eating habits and a fast-food addiction. Ultimately, that means more sickness and death. Invest in school education on healthy eating!

Pouring 32 million Americans into the health system is great. Now the White House has to move beyond image control to substance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 3:21:00 PM  

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