Health care reform and politics seem to be the hot topic of conversation between strangers on airplanes (read Lee Ann’s experience). It’s a weird thing for me. It’s definitely not something that I’d want to bring up because my opinions are just that, they’re mine. And often times, my opinions, they don’t mix well with other people’s opinions. But somehow, (and realize, I sit on the plane and I’m quiet, maybe sleeping, maybe watching a movie) I end up in a conversation with a chatter box that started with our jobs and eventually landed on politics which in the end landed on health care reform. (I think we landed there because he saw my medic alert bracelet and watched me check my blood.)
We agreed on what was being said between the two of us and his mom (which, poor woman, was seated between us; and she’s a nurse at a hospital in Hawaii).
He asked me what I thought about Healthcare reform and my opinion is this, we don’t need reform in the way that Obama is proposing it. We don’t need a government fed health care plan. What we do need is a couple things:
1) Pharmaceutical companies need to be not for profit, there should be a limit on how much they can charge for drugs that are on the market. I’m of the opinion that companies saying that we’re being charged for research and development are full of crap. You can’t R&D unless funds already exist. And if we’re paying for the R&D of future improvements of the medications we’re on / technology we use, then why aren’t we seeing improvements.
Case and point, blood glucose monitoring test strips…I’ve personally always used the LifeScan OneTouch products…the basic, the OneTouch, and OneTouch 2 all used the same test strips. When I switched to the OneTouch Ultra, the OneTouch Ultra Smart, the OneTouch Ultra II, and the OneTouch Ultra Mini all use the same test strips. I’d rather go back to paying $100 a meter, because that’s what’s developing, not the test strips. The costs of what we’re paying for is backwards. We shouldn’t be paying less than <$20 for a meter but be paying $1 a test strip when the cost of making those strips is less than 10 cents.
2) Health care should be proactive not retroactive both in leading lifestyle changes and putting a priority on large problem prevention. This is something that many of us diabetics say especially when we’re talking about constant glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) and insurance. Insurance is more willing to pay the $10,000 bill on taking an ambulance to the hospital and staying a week in ICU because of ketoacidosis (i use this example because it’s what I know); than a few grand on a device that could keep us out of the hospital and keep us aware of what’s going on. Insurance works backwards in terms of priority of care.
A reformed health care system should set the example on this by starting with helping people understand why we need to live healthy lifestyles. The way health care is currently set up, we’re not treating the root causes we’re treating the symptoms…symptoms don’t permanently go away, they may just disappear for a while until something worse pops up.
Medication should not always be one of the first things offered up to someone who has a problem. Many people will jump at a pill to solve their problems, I’m of the opinion that an emphasis needs to be placed on changing our lifestyles where that option is available. I’m going to pick on my sister for a moment. She’s on metformin. She has Type 2 diabetes. She was also told that she could avoid being on medication by eating healthy and exercising. Things that she doesn’t do. In my ideal health care society, pills would’ve never been made an option until she had proved that diet and exercise weren’t working. I think that there needs to be some accountability placed on taking care of ourselves as opposed to putting an autograph on a script and moving onto the next patient.
3) Health care should not be free for the indigent. The reality is that everyone has money in some amount, small or large. When health care is free, completely free, and it costs people nothing, they go to the doctor more often and in many cases they’re at the doctor for things that those of us that have to pay to go to the doctor for (like a cold) wouldn’t go. By charging something, as little as $10 a visit, people would think twice about going to the doctor. A value has to be attached to health care for those that get it for free or it is often abused (yes, I could give real life examples of this if I had to).
I’m going to compare this to when we were kids and we’d get a toy that we were desperately wanting for our birthdays. That toy would get abused, broken, or ignored short in it’s lifespan. Whereas, if we had to save our birthday money for that toy that we so badly wanted, we’d take far better care of it and make it last so long our parents would be wishing that it broke so they could throw it out.
Things mean more to us when we have to pay for them.
I think that if these three things were taken into consideration that health care would be less expensive all around.