There is much rhetoric out there, but the real efforts to improve the American health care system involve several laudable goals, including: 1) control cost, 2) improve quality and 3) improve access. None of this is going to be easy.
For example, let’s take the first goal of controlling health care costs. Some people think it’s just a matter of “reigning in the bad guys.” They point to “for profit” insurers and health care organizations as “only in it for the money,” or to for-profit drug companies who are “only in it for the money” or to doctors who “only care about money.”
But it is never just about the money. The simple, early theories behind managed care were to help patients get access to high quality, cost effective care at an earlier stage while providing incentives to keep costs low. And while pharmaceutical companies are often called on the carpet for the expensive drugs, it’s important to remember that more research and development goes on in the United States than other countries – and these researchers are making many drugs that are actually improving patients’ lives.
We all have financial motivations at some level. But all of us – patients, doctors, insurers, and pharmaceutical company staff – feel that we are contributing something important to the health care system. Of course our system of insuring medical care has problems. But they are system problems, not problems with the people in any particular part of the system.
Demonizing the people involved in delivering health care isn’t going to solve the problem. To crack that nut, we need to decide how much individual responsibility people need to take for their own health – both in terms of how much a person should pay for health care and how responsible they should be for adhering to their doctors’ recommendations.
I have always advocated for patients to take greater ownership of their health care, and I created DrScore.com to help them do just that.