This could be a very large post, but I will try to boil it down to what I perceive as the essentials.
What is the REAL problem with health care in America? I believe the lack of socialized medicine is not the problem. Or, more precisely, socialized medicine is not the cure. Here’s one tiny example of how private health care can actually work.
I recently joined a medical group on the West coast of America called Kaiser Permanente. They are a single payer non profit system. Given their status, they have every reason to digitize their records and introduce efficiency at every stage of the operation to save money. To date, they have achieved their goal. This story is about my relationship with Kaiser and how they have responded to my needs. I make no claims that my experience is homogeneous. I’m sure some of the more taxed Kaiser facilities will give different experiences.
That being said. I’ve had two experiences that have molded my view of this particular organization. The first was with my wife.
Cindy is my wife. One night, she woke me from sleep writhing in agony. She felt like she wanted to vomit and her whole body was cramping. It was horrible to witness. I walked her out to my car and drove her to the Hayward emergency Kaiser facility. Not 10 minutes away. I slid her Kaiser ID card through the magnetic reader and the printer spit out a tag that I wrapped around her wrist. Within 5 minutes, a nurse guided us into a private room where we were asked a series of questions including how much pain was being experienced and where. Immediately, the nurse directed us out a door opposite the one we came in which was the emergency room proper. Cindy was laid down on a gurney and administered morphine. Then a cart came with an ultrasound device and they checked the area where she was experiencing pain. It turns out she had an attack of pancreatitis (sic?). During all this, her primary care physician was contacted at home and was administering advice on how to deal with this including an immediate MRI. Cindy got the MRI and after all was said and done, she was fine and the pain was gone. This all happened in a period of about four hours.
I challenge a for profit hospital to do the same thing as efficiently.
My next experience was with myself. I had a bad blood sugar attack one day that led me to the Dr’s. My hyperglycemia was wreaking havoc with my system causing me to be confused. I was concerned that I was getting adult onset diabetes. So, I approached my Dr and using a computer he prescribed an entire blood analysis. He checked off everything from liver and kidney function to blood sugar and cholesterol. Oh, and he threw in vitamin D deficiency among others. I walked out of the Dr office and across the court to the lab and waited five minutes for my name to be called. Then they took three blood tests and had me deliver a urine sample.
This is where the genius of Kaiser comes in. within two hours, my blood tests started streaming into my email box. The exact test results along with what is considered acceptable ranges. Also, a hotlink to a web site that explains the test itself. These tests are also copied to my Dr who then calls me and follows up with solutions to my health problems. ALL AUTOMATICALLY.
Kaiser is a machine. The perfect example of how health care needs to be ran in this country.
Kaiser is affordable. Kaiser has no limits on what kind of service you can have and for how long. Kaiser delivers it’s own meds so it controls costs. It’s perfect. One time I actually emailed my Dr when my lower back went out and he simply electronically ordered vicodin and a muscle relaxer delivered to the pharmacy. No Dr visit needed.
The whole point of this is this: If government sponsored health care was this efficient, they could cover everyone for little to no cost. The fantastical solution to our health care problems doesn’t need to be an elaborate capital hill solution. it just needs to be ran in an efficient manner by efficient people.