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Some Ideas For Healthcare Reform

Now that healthcare reform is a major agenda item, here is our two cents on the subject.

The first thing is that healhcare must never be seen to be "free." Every doctor's visit, every purchase of medicine MUST have a "co-pay." This can be as low as a few dollars in many cases. In case of extreme emergency, it can be as little as one cent. But it never should be ZERO.

Routine surveillance measures such as MRI's and colonscopies should be paid for by the government only when other disease symptoms indicate "probable cause." They should not be provided "free" to people that appear to be healthy.

The battlefield principle of "triage" should be applied to health care decisions.  Subsidized health care should be limited to non-recurring critical care. Minor ailments, such as allergies (unless acute) should not fall under this category. Nor should critical, but recurring, treatments such as chemotherapy. Treatments are most cost-effective for one time treatments of severe problems like pneumonia or a broken arm.

The plaintiff's bar must be reined in. Nowadays, a patient can sue a doctor on pure "dislike" and have a chance of winning. Doctor's faults should be subject to suit of course, but only when they rise to the standard of gross negligence or malice. Errors are "normal" in any profession, meaning that doctors should not be held to a higher standard than others. Above all, a doctor should not be sued for an honest difference of (medical) opinion, even if that sometimes works out badly.

Thus, malpractice suits would ideally be subsumed under the government regulatory agency, or at least regulated by it. There should be "Safe Harbor" standards of medical practice, as is the case of investor relations practice, that automatically preclude suits. Fear of being sued, and costs of malpractice insurance is the biggest deterrent to the supply of practicing doctors (as opposed to medical researchers).