Overlooking the Obvious
We don’t need to look abroad for models for effective healthcare reform. Nor is Massachusetts a valid prototype, as it fails to address the delivery of medical care.
Instead, we have a homegrown solution that shines: the Veterans Administration’s health system. It’s a model for how to turn around a dysfunctional healthcare system.
While hardly perfect, the fact is it earns 85% customer satisfaction scores compared with only 77% customer satisfaction with private hospitals in America.
Here the private sector clearly lags. And this is despite the VA’s older and sicker patient population.
This is largely because the VA has automated its medical records and decision support systems. This is an area where the private medical sector continues to drag its feet – and is likely to continue to do so despite the financial incentives incorporated into healthcare reform.
The result is better patient safety for VA patients – and at a much lower cost.
There have been highly-publicized criticisms of certain VA health practices and priorities. That’s little comfort, however, when you realize our private sector’s record is far worse.
And it’s reflected in that customer satisfaction gap.
That’s the marketplace talking – not the government.
The Best Answers are Political Suicide
This is how the politics of healthcare reform prove counter-productive.
Setting aside ideology for the moment, a dispassionate analysis of the actual evidence leads to only one conclusion.
The VA health system vastly outperforms our private healthcare system in America. And it does so on every measure:
Patient safety is better,
Treatment outcomes are better (higher quality), and
Medical costs are much lower.
This is the exact recipe needed to get control of our medical spending. And to lower the number of Americans dying prematurely every year from medical errors.
But it’d be political suicide to suggest such a thing in our current political climate. So we settle instead for half-measures and call it healthcare reform.
And half-measures are unlikely to make more than a dent in our dual crises of medical misspending and treatment injury.
We have only to look again at the evidence in the only state with any experience with the approach adopted for national health reform.
The Massachusetts Precedent
Massachusetts enacted its version of mandated health coverage in 2006.
This prototype is hailed as a great success by those on the political left. Up to 98% of the state’s population is now insured.
So what’s the truth – stripped of the ideological “spin”?
Well, the ranks of the insured have certainly increased in Massachusetts. No one argues this point.
And the state’s finances are actually in better shape than most states. States across America are under extreme financial pressure.
Massachusetts actually instituted a minor tax reduction this year. So it’s obviously not bordering on bankruptcy.
The facts, therefore, don’t support the “dismal failure” argument of those on the political right.
But is it the unadulterated success the left fancies it to be?
If you’ve read Our Healthcare Sucks, you already know the answer.
Increasing access to a broken healthcare system is a double-edged sword, to say the least.
For every formerly uninsured person who will benefit under healthcare reform – assuming it remains intact – there will be as many or more harmed by medical errors, price-gouging, and unnecessary procedures.
That’s a highly-qualified “success” at best.
And for far too many Americans, healthcare reform is likely to be dismal failure when family members are victimized by the medical greed and often deadly mistakes that run rampant in American healthcare.
Which means you should…
Click here for the final Part 3 to this post on healthcare reform in America.
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This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only.
It does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied upon as such.
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Our Healthcare Sucks