From Healthcare to Wealthcare

There is no doubt that the healthcare system in the US could use some work. We spend way too much and the quality of the healthcare that many receive is not where it could or should be. We allocate too much of our healthcare spending in the last few months of a person’s life and not nearly enough on preventive care throughout our lives. We are not leveraging the power of technology enough to help treat diseases and other conditions early when the treatments are more effective. So I am all for modifications to our health care system that will allow for more innovation, more preventive and wellness care, and more engagement with the system.

What I am not for is a total and complete dismantling of the Affordable Care Act and a return to a time when many US citizens did not have a means to pay for the healthcare they need (ie insurance). The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the Republican plan that has been put forth will cause 15mm US citizens to lose their insurance in the near term and up to 24mm over the longer term (by 2026).

This would just take us back to the time when a large percentage of our population had no other option but to defer healthcare until they got really sick and then show up in hospital emergency rooms and stick the “system” (ie those with insurance) with the bill. This is not a good way to run our healthcare system. Sure it might enable the government to remove the mandate that everyone have insurance, which sticks in the craw of conservatives and libertarians, but the cost of doing so means less preventive care, less outpatient care, and more costly end of life care.

I believe citizens of the US should have healthcare insurance. If they can afford it, they should pay for it. If they can’t afford it, society should pay for it. But one way or another, everyone should have the ability to see a doctor regularly, get preventive care, find diseases early on and treat them, and not defer their medical needs until they become acute.

The Republican plan seems hastily drawn up, largely a political reaction to the Affordable Care Act, and a return to a time when the wealthy can afford healthcare and many others cannot. I would encourage the President, his team, and the Republican members of Congress to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that moves us forward, not takes us back.