UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
"American corporations have begun to realize that a huge chunk of the North America's Gross National Product (GNP) is being funneled to FOREIGN DRUG companies - multinational drug syndicates based in France, Germany, etc. through the grossly inflated price of pharmaceuticals in the United States. North America is being bled. And, big American corporations are picking up a big part of the tab in increased health costs for their employees. That means that US companies have to raise the price of their manufactured goods - which means they can't compete in world markets with the countries that host big pharma. "Big pharma" is NOT an American business - not at all. The only thing "American" about big pharma is it's being half of the word "Anti-American." - Tim Bolen
The United States is capable of providing its citizens with universal health care while substantially reducing the overall cost of health care. This new Government plan, Universal Health Care Vouchers works by reorienting free market forces on family physicians to reward health rather than illness. The plan puts the most knowledgeable party, the family physician, in operational control of family health. It is a proposal that allows people to select their own physicians, and once selected, the physicians earns more if patients remain healthy. The plan is similar to Nobel economist Milton Friedman's school voucher plan which gives parents a choice where their children attend school. The reduction of overall healthcare costs would boost the U.S. economy.
That doctors and hospitals are a leading cause of illness and death is frightening and true. At the root of these terrible statistics is that is that there is a serious flaw in the current free market U.S. health care system. Hospitals, doctors and drug companies are rewarded only when people fall ill. According to Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal Of Medicine, "The most startling fact about 2002 is that the combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). " These mind boggling drug company profits are the result of treating illness, or pseudo-illness, with patented, prescription drugs. Drugs have often been shown to create more illness; in the United states, the cost of treating illness has been estimated to be between 7% to 12% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
When the free market rewards sickness, more illness is to be expected. A study of inefficiencies and dangers in American hospitals, conducted by the Institute of Medicine, yielded alarming statistics. Included in their chilling findings are the following atrocities:
This hair-raising report showed also that millions more Americans are injured by the negligence of hospital personnel, and by being given wrong or inappropriate prescription drugs. Health insurance pays for these disasters. The drug companies make enough money from a single class of prescription drug, rightly or wrongly dispensed, to fund the purchase of 40 professional sports teams! (e.g., $20 billion annually for cholesterol lowering statins.)
A cure for heart disease offered by one of America's most brilliant scientists is largely unknown and is still being ignored by the medical profession. If this proven (non-drug) cure had been explored and applied how many lives could have been spared, how many hospital visits could have been avoided? In heart patients, the statin prescription drugs deplete the body of endogenous Coenzyme Q10, which actually creates more heart disease.
The plan, Federally sponsored Universal Healthcare Vouchers, would enable physicians to earn as well a living even if patients remain healthy and don't require their services. This is how it works. The doctor receives payment when a family gives her the voucher. The doctor accepts the voucher in exchange for agreeing to provide the family with complete health care. The physician assumes the responsibility for securing catastrophic group health insurance for patients in order to pay for patient trauma and hospitalizations. In the plan doctors are paid, whether or not the patient is sick. Doctors therefore earn more money by keeping their patients healthy and out of their offices and out of the hospital. The possibility of the family giving next year's voucher to another physician will provide the incentive for proper service by the physician.
Vouchers change the economic incentives for family physicians and place all healthcare decision making in the doctors hands. The program is Federally funded on the basis that it would substantially reduce the overall cost of health care to society. Because the treatment of any sickness would now cost the doctor, and not the patient, there is great incentive for doctors to prevent and minimize illness. Doctors would be encouraged to scrutinize more closely the potential cures that have been disregarded.
Of perhaps the greatest economic importance, vouchers would change the medical doctor's incentive to prescribe prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are expensive, and these drugs are usually dangerous and often lead to other illness. With vouchers, prescription drug use will predictably diminish, to be used only as a last resort. Drug companies that only make money from sickness would go out of business.
The Federal Government provides vouchers to all tax-paying families, in much the same manner as school vouchers. The family voucher can be given to the physician of choice in exchange for complete family health care for one-year.
Under a voucher plan, the family physician becomes the focus of family health care. She/he makes all the important medical decisions in exchange for the cash-value of the voucher.
An important requirement is that the family physician be responsible for total health care. The doctor would purchases group-health-insurance to cover catastrophes and major hospitalizations for patients. Thus, every major economic and medical decision would be made by the most knowledgeable party in the healthcare equation - the family physician.
The value of the vouchers must provide sufficient incentive for physicians. Each member of the family must increase the value of the voucher. Doctors must be able to earn a significant income without their patients having to become sick.
Physicians must retain the right to refuse family vouchers.
The cumulative value of the vouchers should be 2.5%-3% GDP, saving current costs by at least 1% of GDP, and possibly as much as 10% of GDP.
The plan pays physicians for every patient whose voucher they attract, regardless of whether or not the patient requires a doctors services. Vouchers reward physicians the most when patients remain healthy and do not need expensive medical attention.
Families should have the power to select their physicians each time the voucher is issued, probably yearly.
MEDICARE would remain, and be the safety net for those who cannot find doctors to accept their vouchers.
The key feature of this plan is the Government induced change in free market forces that affect health care costs. The market force are redirected away from rewarding sickness, instead, family physicians earn more by keeping patients well, out of any doctors office and out of the hospital. Skilled physicians would be able to service more patients and realize increased net income by attracting more vouchers.
We predict that the reorientation of market forces would bring the total cost of health care down from the current 7%-12% GDP to less than 4% of the current GDP. Saving even 1% of GDP would be an enormous boost to the U. S. economy. Some savings would result from the elimination of regular health insurance claims, but the greatest savings lie in the elimination of the regular use of many prescription drugs that do more harm then good.
According to the American Medical Association, without the benefit of health insurance, Americans make more than 100 million more visits to alternative practitioners than orthodox medical doctors. Many alternative medical doctors have discovered that current economics, created by the perverse market incentives, lead to at least $80-120 billion dollars in useless prescription drug sales -- such drugs that seemingly are designed to create new markets for other drugs.
The already known cures for heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases would save an estimated $200 to $300 billion in current spending. With vouchers, medical doctors would rely on prescription drugs that are proven to be effective, as well as non prescription methods that are known for keeping their patients well.
With a voucher plan, sales of most prescription drugs will inevitably decline, saving many lives, while their high cost becomes irrelevant.
Universal Health Care Vouchers would work only by changing the economic incentives. The invisible hand of the new economics would reward the family physician most when patients stay healthy, rather than rewarding a medical system that harms people. Under new incentives, chronic diseases that are curable will be eliminated.
The idea of the Universal Health Care Voucher plan is modeled on the school vouchers proposed by Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman. As with school vouchers, a viable plan must give people the choice of physician and it must provide the strong economic incentive for family physicians to keep their patients healthy.
Vouchers could be provided for other professions in order to establish similar incentives. For example, if family lawyers received vouchers for "universal legal care," they would earn the same whether or not they wind up in court. Thus there would be little incentive to write complex legal documents or to litigate. Automobile repair has initiated "maintenance contracts" for the same economic reasons. They do so in order that car dealerships, whose money is made in their service departments, may be rewarded when cars are well built rather than requiring frequent repairs.
It is a sad fact that today, better public health means less profit for drug companies. Medical doctors feed drug company profits by prescribing their drugs. Prescription drugs often have serious side effects, and they may cause additional medical problems. The incentives are analogous to lawyers feeding on litigation, or car mechanics requiring cars to break down. Under a federally funded plan, all American families would have equal access to health care and family doctors (and perhaps family lawyers in the future).
Key features of the Universal Health Care Voucher plan are that families have the choice of a family physician, physicians retain the right of refusal, and after the selection of a professional and the voucher has been accepted, total service (universal healthcare) must be provided to all members of the family for a period of at least one year. The ideal family health care, or legal care, voucher system pays professionals more for doing less work.
Owen R. Fonorow, Naturopath www.TheCureForHeartDisease.com www.VitaminCFoundation.org www.PaulingTherapy.com www.BolenReport.com