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Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Unhealthy Profit

Just a quick question on health care and motivation.  If the foundation of a health care system is so that people or companies providing the care can turn a profit, how possibly could this mean that one would get the best possible care?  In the health care systems of Europe, people are given health care that are mostly designed simply to provide for better health.  The services are designed by and run predominantly by the countries themselves and answer to a democratically elected populace.  They are not run by private companies, as in the US system, who's actual first priority is to the share holders and to profit maximization.  These companies then use providing health care as a way to make money and generate this profit.  This minor word choice is a major distinction.  In the US system companies have found a way to make a profit, not found a way to provide health care.  This is huge!!  How is it possible that the United States health care system is designed to make money first, not make us healthy.  We can talk about all the details we want in terms of healthcare policies (who pays, how much, HMO's, etc) and how the current system works/can be changed, but FUNDAMENTALLY it is flawed. 

We are not getting the best care because corners get cut if profit, or not enough profit, can be made.  As I've said before, profit is actually an extra cost that raises prices and increases inefficiency.  Yes, it does provide incentive for investment, but should we need financial incentive to care for the health of people, families, childern?  If you take the profit away from these companies they could charge lower prices.  State health care providers may be looked at as inefficient, but they are wholly inclusive and include the entire populations, have lower costs per person, and most importantly they are motivated by the right reasons - care, not money.

How many of us hate it when we go into a store or call a company, and you can tell that the sales person is really just interested in getting a sale, making a commition, or just simply doing whatever it takes to make money, even at the expense of service.  Yet we have no problem allowing our entire health care system to function like this - based on making money. 

Now, this may seem like I am pushing for state run health care, but I am not.  I am asking for health care that is not firstly profit motivated.  Health care designed to provide for the people in medical need, not financial desire.  Does such a company structure currently exist?  Does it have to be done by non-profits?  Is the state the only option?  This is quite the grey area.  I personally believe that if the system does not specifically reward or motivate in a certian direction - i.e. doesn't explicitly try to promote it - then people will not so readily follow a specific option.   We need to another level of legal corporate distinction - 'for-service' companies as I see it (I'm working on an outline for this type of company, check back).  But ultimately, we need our healthcare to be about us, not about money.

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