Posted By RichC on August 13, 2009
As U.S. Congressional representatives sweat over whether to have townhall meetings in their states to talk healthcare during the August recess, I sweat over how to plan financial security for my family’s future, of which health insurance is a part. Years ago it seemed logical to just keep plunking away a few dollars into a SEP, 401K and IRA and ‘let it ride’ for the long haul and keep the rose colored glasses on that medicare will cover me when I retire. Nowadays, the entire paradigm has been shaken and very few financial investment experts, mutual fund managers or traders have answers as to how to best protect one’s savings and plan for a secure retirement. The daily statistical numbers coming from the Fed and Wall Street don’t help much when deciding if equities are worth the risk again or if the economy is heading for a recovery from recession or if we’ll see more pain this autumn. On Wednesday the Fed offered an upbeat assessment and this morning retail sales numbers fell despite the government’s Cash for Clunkers program (PDF). Who knows, but I’ll remain a “nervous market bull” and continue to stay in equities for now.
Although I’m not a supporter in the way government is currently getting involved in healthcare, the inevitability is that our growing bureaucracy with be controlling it more and more … be Democrats or Republican be in control — get use to it. Both parties are talking about reform and most Americans are sick (pun intended) of rising heath insurance premiums, reduced care and the convoluted gamesmanship of managing coverage and the associated red-tape.
The key for me is to prevent socialized and rationed medicine that removes investment capital from the equation. These models have been tried in other developed countries are are not ‘the envy of the world.’ When profit is removed from healthcare, be it pay for smart high quality doctors, well maintained hospitals or ROI for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, to the point that it pays more to sue doctors, hospitals and big pharma (ie. no tort reform even being discussed), then we’ll find it challenging to advance medical care in this country. By removing the profit incentive for investment capital, we’ll reduce competition (fewer companies) under government control we are bound to see overall quality of care to go down and will most definitely feel the inconvenience.
Currently, I’m in the waiting mode for a colonoscopy with “insurance company dictated” price controls (where there is at least some capital competition); how much longer do you suppose I’ll be waiting to get a colonoscopy when Washington dictates the price … or will they disallow my personal physician from even requesting it — that’s not to mention the quality of the procedure (paid by how many per day, not how well the scoping is done). Maybe its just me, but when someone probing ‘you know where,’ I don’t want an underpaid, under-incentified, less than qualified person doing as many colonoscopies in a day that they can when it comes to my colon. I can’t find one government run bureaucracy that truly runs efficiently … but would run out of space listing the number of industries that improve both product and service when competition is increased and incentives for excellent products and service are there.
A final point: While we talk healthcare reform, and no doubt it is a ‘huge’ undertaking for our elected representatives, is it so immediate that it must be ‘rammed’ through without reading the bill or discussing it with constituents. To me it seems an important enough, and expensive enough, issue to work on it methodically. Let’s not make the the rash ‘bailout’ style decisions with healthcare that we did with banks and automotive. Let’s not rush into change for change sake without understanding the consequences and long term costs in both dollars and care. If there is one thing different about healthcare from the banking and auto crisis is that there’s time to read, discussion, improve and understand what is being voted on and demanding of our next generation … because in the end, I’m sure of only one thing … government run healthcare will end up costing us all more.
EDIT: For Sirius/XM radio listeners, there is a good relatively non-partisan program on Doctor Radio Thursdays call Health Care Connect hosted by Andrew Rubin. Besides offering Health insurance advice, they do a pretty good job of dissecting the current legislation being proposed. I’m including a short MP3 “How are we paying for it” question from a listener that should give and indication as to the work that needs to be done on this bill, along with an interesting MP3 segment with Steve Forbes.
I found this conversation interesting … and more of the kinds of discussion that people need to contemplate when trying to understand where biotech and investing fits into “healthcare.” (CNBC video from 8/13/2009 below)