Mark L. Hopkins: Wherefore healthcare?
President Obama and the Democrats gave us the Affordable healthcare Law. Most healthcare professionals do not like Obamacare but it is the law of the land and they are making do with what they have been given. The hastily put together plan recently offered by the Republicans is not the solution to our healthcare problems either. It seems that the real solution has not yet been presented. Obamacare is basically a regulation of the insurance industry and does not touch the real issues which are access to medical care and cost containment.
Presidents who set out to reform healthcare include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and more recently President Barack Obama. Oddly, both Democrats and Republicans who attempted to reform healthcare ended up reforming health insurance instead. Health insurance is to healthcare as car insurance is to the car. If the cost of the car goes up, the cost of the car insurance goes up. The reason the cost of health insurance is so high is because the cost of healthcare is so high. Controlling healthcare costs must be a top priority.
The healthcare industry has many internal and external publics. In fact, every citizen is involved in the healthcare issue and most have opinions on how healthcare should be resolved. As we have come to know, many of those opinions are in direct conflict with each other. President Donald Trump said, “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” Well duh.
When our country was created by that group of geniuses 200-plus years ago, they wrote a Constitution that lived and breathed. They knew change was inevitable and our government would have to change with the times. Healthcare didn’t even rate a sentence. When someone says “The Constitution does not give anyone the right to healthcare,” they are right. The Constitution doesn’t address a number of other things as well. Two hundred and thirty-eight years of history has created a whole list of issues that didn’t exist when the Constitution was written. That doesn’t mean they don’t require consideration all these many years later.
Our country’s approach to healthcare in the past has not provided the best services for our citizens. Many other countries have surpassed us in both medical services and research. The World Health Organization reports that the U.S. ranks No. 1 in expenditures for healthcare services per capita but 31st in quality of healthcare available. We rank well behind Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and 26 other countries. How can that be?
The answer is that we have allowed our healthcare industry to grow like Topsy. Everyone knows that competition drives costs down. But, we have limited the opportunity for competition in a number of ways. One of the most important is by placing a cap on the number of doctors who can be trained for service in the U.S. Did you know that each year we have more than 7,000 qualified U.S. medical students training to become doctors outside the U.S.? Why? Because we exercise strict control of the number of seats in our medical schools and Intern opportunities in hospitals. Who does that? That is a column for another time. Suffice it to say, in that situation the fox is guarding the hen house.
So, what is the answer? Is it a health plan totally controlled by the government like Canada or Japan? Is it, instead, no government involvement in healthcare at all? Or, is it some hybrid of these two extremes?
We are way past time for our country’s leadership to create a national commission to solve this problem. When it convenes every interest group within our healthcare industry should be represented and all “best” ideas should be heard. We need to remember that we didn’t get into this problem overnight. We won’t solve it overnight either.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at email@example.com.