Ann Coulter recently wrote an article in which she claims that malpractice insurance and claims are the primary driver’s of our sky-rocketing healthcare costs… Really? Because actually, the numbers bely this claim. Malpractice insurance rates typically run between $5000 and $30,000 depending on the medical practice, orthopedics on the high end, and GP’s on the low end which coincides with their revenue generation. Many states now have caps on economic hardship payouts, and the average claim is now about $190,000 with approximately 18,000 claims per year. The numbers don’t support the claim.
So what are the reasons? Why have we spiraled completely out of control?
Numerous factors enter. 1) Over treating is a significant culprit. Over treating and over – prescribing generate additional revenue for the physician, the hospital, the blood work, the radiologist, the nurse, the reader of scans, etc… until soon, a simple exam that should have been $35 is $3500 when everyone gets their fair share.
Moreover, these treatments can be controlled by you and I by just saying – no. It’s kind of like how many guys are needed to screw in a light bulb scenario? Because in the medical field, the answer might be three to ten – depending on how tight you want the bulb.
For example, even a simple blood work panel requires the clinic, the lab, and your physician to be paid in order to be told – everything looks normal. Or how about the ‘follow-up’ visit when you have no issues after a procedure? Why am I required to have my eyes checked annually when they haven’t changed in twenty five years?
Why does the hospital or clinic charge $100 for a single pill that sells for $1 at Walgreens? Why do children have to get a chicken pox vaccine when it’s not life threatening and most everyone over the age of 20 got through it just fine? My grandbaby just got two doses of the flu vaccine at seven months? What?? One surgery can wrack up twenty different bills?
When comparing the cost of procedures in the US verses just about anywhere else, the US is considerably higher. A part of that account is due to a US phenomena; fee for service which encourages the multi- layering of services and the ten guys/gals to administer an injection. Other countries mitigate this through a ‘flat rate’ system, one fee, one bill, end of discussion. Much like a flat rate tax system – no pain.
By contrast, Rand Paul’s overhaul claims that if individuals are allowed to create associations, this would drive down healthcare costs and eliminate the pre-existing issue. Unfortunately, this is only half true.
There already are associations, Medi-Share is one of the largest that is accepted as a substitute for Obamacare, although it is not labeled ‘insurance’. While premiums are significantly lower, their pre-existing mandate is three years. Any medical issue within the past three years is not covered.
What this reveals is that sick people are the cause of increased rates. Medi-Share encourages health – not sickness and not unnecessary medications or procedures. Because they are Christian they also have in place caveats, they don’t cover abortions or related medical expenses, alcoholism, drug treatment, rehab, etc… This particular association is only for Christians, any association can create their own mandates. But nobody else is even attempting this route despite the fact that it is available!
Medi-Share has proven that it works. Insurance premiums are roughly half and deductibles are roughly a fourth of traditional maximum out of pocket dollars charged by traditional insurance companies.
So, now you are left with the pre-existing population, training doctors to heal instead of medicate, and weaning patients off of unnecessary procedures could radically diminish these costs. For example diabetes, a growing epidemic, can be suppressed with health changes, dietary changes, exercise changes – all of which Medi-Share addresses. Going to the doctor for a simple cold or flu. Or the now 120+ vaccines that children under the age of 18 are required to get despite most of these diseases being non-existent for decades.
Diptheria. Infants in the US are routinely vaccinated for this despite the fact that the actual number of cases per year over the last 30 years is 2. The number of tetanus cases is roughly 50 per year, mostly in old people – but we still vaccinate babies. We give infants Hep A vaccine routinely. Why? Who is at risk for Hep A? Gay men, drug users, people with hemophilia, people that work with primates, and people traveling to at risk countries… Hep B? Who is at risk? People with chronic kidney disease, people with HIV, gay men, drug users sharing needles, sexually active people…
Infants? The CDC recommends that ALL children between 12 months and 23 months get Hep A vaccine and ALL infants get Hep B. Driving ever upward – Health Care Costs!
An ever smaller percent of the population would then make up this remaining category needing traditional health insurance; those with cancer, back, knee and hip surgeries, heart disease, etc… Creating a flat rate fee could alleviate the costs associated with this group of people.
In the end, redesigning a hugely failed system with the Lindsey-Graham system, doesn’t really fix anything, it just sort of jumbles up the same mess and creates new labels that effectively do not change the core structure of what drives costs.