Who is the Real Enemy in Healthcare?
We are approximately a decade removed from the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Progressives promised the law would fix healthcare’s problems in America. Conservatives warned the law would ruin healthcare in America. The political divide over healthcare hasn’t healed as healthcare is once again taking its place on the throne as the king of political issues.
You’re probably familiar with the issues. Healthcare is expensive. Healthcare and health insurance are complicated. In spite of our high cost, our health outcomes aren’t comparably favorable to those of nations with lower healthcare costs. On top of all this, almost 30 million people in America have no health insurance. We have cost, complexity, quality, and coverage problems.
Everyone knows the problems, but opinions vary greatly on who, or what, is to blame. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. Hospitals blame insurance companies. Insurance companies blame hospitals. Primary care physicians blames specialists. Specialists blame non-compliant patients. Patients blame gluten! The blame game is alive and well, but it’s a fool’s game. The real enemy is sitting in the background continuing its assault on the American people and the American economy.
So, who is the villain? Disease! The time, energy, and money spent blaming other stakeholders should instead be focused on fighting disease. The problem isn’t Republicans, Democrats, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, or even gluten. The problem is we produce too much disease in this country too early in our lives, and it’s too expensive and too hard to get the care we need to get better. It’s not too much healthcare…it’s too much disease, and I hate disease!
If you’ve ever heard these words, then you hate disease, too.
- It’s malignant.
- You have diabetes.
- We are going to have to operate.
- Somebody call an ambulance!
- Is there a pulse?
- Can we stop the bleeding?
- There is no known cure.
These words teleport the patient, their family, and their support group into an alternate reality. You are immediately in a place you don’t recognize. The words and language are unfamiliar. Suddenly, you have swapped your favorite jeans for a paper gown with inadequate backside coverage. The disease that teleports you to this new reality is the enemy. It takes you hostage. It steals your money. It can alter your mind. It disables you. It can literally kill you. Please understand the person fighting the disease is never the enemy. Disease is the enemy, and all stakeholders must align to defeat cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, ALS, HIV, birth defects, drug addiction, depression, and the host of other demons. We’ve spent way too much political time, energy, and money trying to place blame on the stakeholders rather than making war with disease.
Imagine a time when the CEO of the world’s largest insurance company, also referred to as the President of the United States, gives an update on healthcare in the State of the Union address that praises our progress in reversing pre-diabetes, our measurable improvement in cancer survival rates because we’re finding so many more cancers at stage 1 and stage 2, our miracle pharmaceutical cures for previously lethal diagnoses, and the amazing turn in our obesity rates. The President focuses his or her time, attention, and message on lives saved, risks reversed, and cures found.
Today’s political messaging around healthcare doesn’t resemble this focused, optimistic future view. A candidate for Senate in Texas in the 2018 election had a television ad on healthcare in which he said the following, “He (his opponent) chose to shut down the government for sixteen days because he thought too many people were getting too much healthcare.” What does this even mean? It really doesn’t matter what it means because the political goal is to create angst against the other side and to use anxiety related to healthcare as the manipulation tool.
Political fear and manipulation regarding healthcare spread like measles. This type of measles can be red from right or blue from the left. A hyper-focus on the politics of healthcare financing means cancer, diabetes, and other disease are free to wreak havoc on unsuspecting Americans. We must make sound, informed political decisions so we can turn the focus to connecting and aligning the stakeholders appropriately so that we can kick cancer’s ass, win the war on diabetes, put heart attacks in our history, and deliver healthy babies who are our future. Don’t ever forget disease is the one and only true enemy of the healthcare system!
As we recently announced, I’ve written a book called “The Voter’s Guide to Healthcare: A non-partisan, candid, and relevant look at politics and healthcare in America,” which will be released in September. In this book, I’m not going to be talking about how to cure cancer or prevent heart attacks. I am not a trained clinician. I am a healthcare consultant whose primary business sits at the intersection of employers, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and the government. We see how these stakeholders come together. By better connecting the public and private financing sources of our healthcare system we can free up the healthcare heroes to get to the important work of relieving pain, curing disease, and saving lives. That’s the healthcare reform we really need!
As a result, I want to arm everyone with knowledge. So, each Wednesday, I’ll be releasing new information and insight into politics, healthcare, and the current issues with our system. I hope you can join me. And, just so you don’t miss out, I’d encourage you to sign up for our “Insiders’ Club.” Not only will you receive a free book when it’s released, you’ll also be notified when we post new information.
Let’s get the conversation started!
Published on: 06.12.19