Before Biden, the last two men who won the presidency as Democrats made improvements to the health care system foundational to their platforms. Pres. Biden, of course, has the coronavirus to address. However, once that crisis is in the rearview mirror–which, unfortunately, will require more time than we want–I am curious: what will it take for Congress to accept the fact that America’s health care system is broken, and then choose to do something about it?
The coronavirus has merely exposed longstanding fissures within America’s health care system. The people who need care and counseling the most cannot, in many instances, afford losing time from work to seek medical care. Nor can they afford it, even with medical insurance. Over 500,000 American families declared bankruptcy as the result of their medical expenses in 2019, and most suspect that number will increase when data from 2020 gets tabulated. Health care costs in America total about $11,000 a year per capita, which places it last among wealthy nations worldwide. Health care also consumes an enormous amount of the country’s GDP–far more than any other wealthy nation. Don’t suggest that this is because the quality of health care in America is so great. We rank 15th.
What kind things can you say about a nation that entrusted drugstore chains to be on point for the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines? The process has certainly not been efficient. The drugstores have been overwhelmed by demand and underwhelmed by supply. In Mississippi, efforts have also been fractured by the ideological insistence that counties should have as much say in the process as possible. (The easiest way to make anything happen in Mississippi is to tie high school sports to performance goals. Want to go to the playoffs? Your school better be accredited! Want to see your kids play ball? Get vaccinated!)
I like doctors. Both of my grandfathers were physicians who had their numbers in the phone book. I am quite certain I never ate a meal at my paternal grandfather’s house without a patient calling to ask for advice.
He always answered.
Neither man retired a millionaire. Both practiced medicine as a calling. I suspect both would have balked at having at least ten staff members per physician in their clinics–a result of the abstruse complexity of the health insurance system.
I’m not interested in enforcing a vow of poverty on those who take the Hippocratic Oath. However, I’m also not interested in abetting a system that does so little at the cost of so much. What ideas do you have for reforming the system? Do any of these seem likely to make it through Congress?