The healthcare industry is a complex organism. On the one hand, medical providers exist for patient care. On the other hand, profits drive the industry. At times, the two compete with one another, and sadly, profits typically win priority.
Over the last thirty years, Democrats have argued that the healthcare industry no longer exists to care for people’s needs. They say greedy companies will do anything to ensure profits over patients. Conservatives argue the free market will assure competition and lower prices.
A new report shows that hospitals may be arming Democrats with more persuasive arguments.
Before I get into the details, I think it’s important to note that on this issue, Democrats have a fair argument to make. Still, the solution is the challenge, and I’ll discuss it later in the article.
For now, we need to ask, what is capitalism and the free market, and is it what really exists today?
Based on what I’m about to share, I would say yes and no. Pursuing money at all costs without regard for an industry social contract is troubling. Let me explain what I mean — Today’s capitalism is different from even 50 years ago. While companies should operate on profits, there should be more to a business than just money.
For example, during the Great Depression, corporations didn’t focus solely on profits. Of course, there are always exceptions, but the culture was different. It was common for CEOs to serve in a soup kitchen to help the community. There was an understanding that businesses only did as well as the communities they served.
This is something we’ve lost today, and the societal consequences are all around us.
So, why am I talking about this?
I read an article yesterday about how hospitals are farming out their Emergency Room operations to third-party providers. To maximize profits, ERs are cutting back on doctors. In some instances, there may not even be one on duty. Instead, they are using physician assistants and other professionals instead of a doctor.
The results have been horrible for patients.
Instead of getting a proper diagnosis on the first visit, the number of people returning two and three times with worsening symptoms has escalated. Because of misdiagnosis and returns to the ER, patients aren’t billed for one visit but for every visit.
Can you imagine what this means for both parties?
The patient is getting worse, and it’s costing them their health and more money.
The ER is expanding its profits. It’s due to paying half the expense of a doctor with mid level practitioners in the ER combined with repeat business.
That may work really well in some industries, but it should be different when it comes to people’s lives.
Doctors are trained to do what they do for a reason. There is nothing wrong with complimenting them with PAs with less education to do routine things like stitches, etc., but that’s not what’s happening in many ERs and hospitals.
So, what are the politics of this?
It leads to Democrats making legitimate arguments about medical care reform while Republicans stick their head in the sand and suggest the free market will deal with it. Apparently, they aren’t policing themselves very well. Still, the problem is Democrats’ solution is a government-run healthcare system. As I always ask, show me something the government does right in the small things, and I’ll be more open-minded. Yet, even my open-mindedness has limits about the government’s role in my healthcare and life, as a general matter.
The problem is that the government bureaucracy wasn’t designed to provide efficient, timely, or responsible services. Government power and corruption is also a legitimate concern. Who would watch over them to prevent corruption and greed? That’s asking the powerful and connected to watch over one another. If you think it’s bad now, a government-run healthcare system would be even worse.
Yet, hospitals and the medical system aren’t proving to be much better. It’s so profit-driven that patients are the ones who pay the price.
Is there a solution?
Perhaps… I read several years ago about the feasibility of pushing hospitals and the healthcare industry into a non-profit model. If they aren’t focused on profits, the theory is they would be more focused on patient care, innovation, and community service.
Now, I’m sure there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Still, studies suggest it could be the best method for delivering world-class patient care.
What do you think?
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