We are forming a new singing group called the Four Anythings. We sing about healthcare and you can join in. Remember the song “Anything you can do I can do better” from Annie Get Your Gun?” (If you don’t know it, search Google – it is worth hearing.)
Anything quick won’t work. Our rational minds know that if it took 40 years to get where we are, we can’t get out of it in 40 days or 40 months. Yet we heed our emotions and nod our heads shouting Yes! when some aspiring politician or self-styled expert promises to fix healthcare next year.
Anything easy is a hoax. If fixing healthcare were easy, why haven’t they done it already? So, when someone says Just listen to my lovely sound byte – my easy answer – give me your vote (and your money) and I will fix healthcare for you, this is a hoax. Anything easy won’t work. This person is selling you snake oil and you seem eager to waste your money. Anything cheap will cost more. Two things to note: predictability and value.
First, what government program ever cost what they promise? The winning bid for the original space shuttle was $2.9 billion. Cost over-runs were triple the entire bid: in excess of $6 billion. Medicare cost over eight times (>800%) the initial projections.
Second, we pay close attention to what something will “cost” but make little attempt to determine its value. We do not consider the long-term but think only about the next budget cycle. What will something, like healthcare reform, cost over twenty years, including avoided costs? What about the second half of the cost/benefit equation: will we get what we really want? What value will we receive?
The phrase “ universal health care ” has been bandied about recently as something we all want and something that will “certainly” save money. Some politicians say universal health care when they actually mean health insurance. The fact is we want neither. What we all want is to be and to stay healthy. That is not the same as universal health care or insurance, and it won’t come cheap.
Anything simple is for simple problems. Healthcare has many complex issues, difficult but fixable problems, and is definitely not simple. Why would we ever think that a simple answer, a sound byte of 20 seconds or less, a grandiose and euphonious promise, could solve anything? Ridiculous, yet that is what we are offered and that is what we seem to be buying: simple, easy, “cheap” answers for highly complex problems.
PS. The Four Anythings can sing at all sorts of parties, not just one for healthcare. We are just as good at family issues, business meetings, and scientific sessions.