How to improve healthcare without Obamacare

It’s actually quite easy, and you don’t need to be a doctor or economist to understand why these ideas will work. And while some of the problems I present are uniquely American, others are true more or less everywhere in the world.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will propose any of these solutions.

1. Advertise prices

Doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies should openly advertise (and show in clear view when you go visit them) EXACTLY what their prices are for customers. If insurance covers it, then that’s fine, but everyone will be able to scrutinize and compare prices anyway. This will lead to market competition and eventually decreased prices for both insured and uninsured patients. Quality will either improve or remain the same.

2. Free market insurance

Right now, you can’t buy health insurance across state lines. Which means you have to choose from the very limited (and very expensive) options in a federally mandated oligopoly which colludes with each other.

3. Import pharmaceutical drugs

Most pharmaceutical companies are multinational, and nearly all of them use the same quality standards that pharmaceutical companies in the United States use. Why can’t we import from another country like Canada, where the exact same drugs made by the same pharmaceutical companies, but are considerably cheaper? We can’t import because the federal government allows an oligopoly.

4. End corn subsidies (and the sugar tariff)

Without the corn subsidies, which everyone knows do more harm than good, two things will happen. The first is that with less corn available, everything you buy on the shelf won’t be made of high fructose corn syrup. Real sugar, even when refined, is a lot less damaging to your body. For most people, raw cane sugar is actually good for your health. Combine this with an end to the sugar tariff so the price of sugar will come down a lot. The other effect is that all the livestock farmers will have to feed their animals healthier foods, and not just Monsanto corn. Honestly, is it that hard to feed cows who are designed to survive on grass to only feed them grass (and not Monsanto corn)? If people start eating healthier meat, they’ll need to see the doctor less often.

5. Residency reform

After finishing medical school, graduates have to spend several years in “residency” in a state, shadowing other doctors in a hospital before they’re allowed to get a license to be called “Doctor” ONLY IN THAT SPECIFIC STATE. Licensing standards are either the same or very similar in almost every state, so that wouldn’t be hard to do. Right now, once a doctor gets a license, they can’t leave. What if you’re a doctor in a state that has too many doctors per capita but you want to move to a state that’s seriously lacking in doctors? Well, you have to jump a lot of hurdles and probably spend several more years taking exams and doing residency. If doctors got to move around based on supply and demand, we’d have more doctors where they’re needed the most, and the prices would come down.

All the different regions of USA and Canada have different (but compatible) requirements for getting a driver’s license. If you have a license in Pennsylvania, no one is stopping you from driving your car in British Columbia. But if you’re a doctor in Pennsylvania and you write a prescription for your son while on vacation in British Columbia, you could be in serious trouble for doing so. How does that make sense?

6. Health insurance company transparency

How do insurance companies waste millions of dollars figuring out loopholes on how to not insure their customers? Is it even worth it? It’s not too much to ask to make them show what they’re doing, especially when we put so much trust to them with our lives. If too many people got to see how insurance companies work, the executives would all need to hire bodyguards 24/7.

7. Legally binding Hippocratic Oath (with criminal charges for repeat offenders)

It’s a pretty simple oath that all doctors take to memory. There are A LOT of doctors who don’t take this oath seriously. You can read the oath yourself and come up with plenty of examples in the news of doctors abusing their privileges.

8. Malpractice insurance company transparency

See #6.

9. End the FDA

Or at least drastically reform it. This topic tends to open up a huge can of worms, but here’s what you have to understand about the FDA. According to the FDA (whose heads are all retired executives of Big Pharma, or vice versa), only a drug can prevent, treat or cure a disease. And to get a drug approved by the FDA, you have to pay them $800 million and jump through all kinds of other hurdles. That means if you work in a university lab or something and discover a cure, good luck getting it out into the public. I doubt your university will pay that $800 million fee on top of all the other millions it spent on research, and go through all the other hoops and hurdles. And your university is probably not a business anyway.

10. Allow the sale of organic whole milk (and other foods)

… instead of the homogenized and pasteurized mess of chemicals that shouldn’t be considered fit for human consumption. If you want to reassure me that it’s safe, ask yourself what would happen if you pasteurized breastmilk or infant formula and fed only that to your newborn. Add a bunch of growth hormones and other chemical additives. I wonder how long it would take for you to kill your baby?

On the other hand, if you feed a newborn raw milk straight out of a cow’s udder, it’ll be just fine. And raw milk is usually a lot healthier than baby formula.

11. End TV advertisements

“Doctor, I have ____ symptoms. I must get ________ OR ELSE!” We don’t let tobacco companies advertise on TV, so why should we let Big Pharma? These are very dangerous drugs that can only be used in very specific ways for very specific ailments.

12. Stop bribing the doctors

Isn’t that already illegal? Yes and no. It’s illegal to directly pay doctors money for prescribing a particular drug. But what about those fancy, expensive vacations that pharmaceutical companies give to doctors to “encourage” them to prescribe more of a certain drug? Or how about all the other “free gifts” packaged with advertisements and samples of drugs to give to patients. It happens more often than you think, and there are PLENTY of loopholes everywhere (like calling it an internship) to allow doctors and pharmaceutical companies to get away with it.

13. Not sure what to call this, but it worries me…

Let’s say there’s a drug for chemotherapy that costs $11,000 a month to buy. And the drug can only be administered by certified oncologists, who get paid a lot of money every time they administer the drugs. Let’s also say that the drug is just barely effective for the type of cancer the patient has (only extends the patient’s life by a few extra months, when other doctors only gave them 6 months to live anyway). What if the doctor prescribes/administers the drug anyway?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/opinion/a-hospital-says-no-to-an-11000-a-month-cancer-drug.html

14. Teach doctors more about things other than drugs

Right now, there are a lot of pharmaceutical drugs that doctors have to memorize in medical school. Some work really well, and others should never have been approved by the FDA in the first place. There are a lot of minor health problems you can have that you see a professional for. If you see a doctor, they might prescribe a deadly pharmaceutical drug. However, if you see a physical therapist or chiropractor, they’ll help you fix your posture so you don’t have back pain anymore. If you see a nutritionist, they’ll look at what food you’re eating and tell you that your headaches are being caused by you not getting enough vitamins. I’ve been told doctors get very minimal training in nutrition, and I’m not sure how much training they get in other areas. The incentives to prescribe certain drugs make this situation worse.

15. Alternative medicine

Okay, they’re not the magic elixirs that cure every disease. And I know there’s a lot of fraud and very little accountability. Add the fact that doctors will hate you for using them, and they’re mostly illegal everywhere. How about more research? And there are plenty of things you can grow in your backyard (illegally) that have been overwhelmingly proven to have a lot of benefits. You can think of a specific plant. Why can’t you grow it legally? Because you can grow it on your lawn and will probably work better than the artificial chemicals that make a lot of money for Big Pharma!

16. Medical school tuition

It costs an exorbitant amount of money to go to medical school in the United States. Even if doctors make a lot of money, they struggle a lot with six-figure loans. This drives up healthcare prices even further. In many other countries, medical schools are just as competitive, but cost considerably less. Why? Because the federal government provides a lot of loans and grants. With all this extra money, universities can charge whatever they want, and they WILL get the money somehow. Watch this video for a detailed explanation:

17. Hospital oversight

If a hospital screws up and gives you a deadly infection while treating you for something else, they can still charge you and your insurance company will pay the bill in your name. There is essentially NO oversight on this except for a few malpractice cases from very good lawyers. The doctors, nurses, etc. don’t lose their license over this. Hospitals almost always get away with this.

18. Useless surgery

Like male infant genital mutilation and the vast majority of C-sections. Some covered by insurance or medicaid, some aren’t. If there is no need for it, why do it and bring up healthcare costs?

19. Euthanasia

If you have a right to life, why don’t you have a right to die? You’re old, sick and dying. It’s obvious doctors can’t do anything else for you and you’re in too much pain to do anything of value. If you really want to die, why can’t you? If a doctor kills you with a prescription drug that should have never been approved by the FDA, he usually gets away with it. If a doctor kills you because you simply asked him to, he loses his license and goes to jail.

20. Who writes the textbooks for medical school?

Many of the books that doctors study are written by the following:
Dr. Merck
Dr. Pfizer
Dr. G. S. Kline
Drs. Johnson and Johnson

Nope. I don’t see anything wrong there. What, are you implying there’s some conflict of interest?