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We Are Still Buying Snake Oil To “Fix” Healthcare.

Posted Jun 12 2009 5:05pm

snakeoil_250

Marketing 101: Get their attention! Show them the product! Sell them the goods (and if it is snake oil, get the hell out of town!) Worked in 1895 and still works today. People buy snake oil – promises of quick easy fixes, such as for healthcare – believing (? hoping) it will cure anything. The ‘medicine’ turns out to be Kool-aid, the lethal kind.

You cannot read the newspapers; access the headlines on your computer; or get on Twitter without seeing volumes of discussion about healthcare – most of it off base. Big Insurance promises to cut $2 trillion in ten years. Nancy Pelosi claims that spending ARRA 2009 funds on electronic medical records will save billions. Obama says we will provide health coverage for everyone: snake oil and the medical accounting fraud.   None of it gets at the root causes (systems thinking). Therefore, none of it will cure the patient [healthcare].

We need fish oil, not snake oil. We need systems thinking and reality checks, not wishful thinking and expectations of quick, easy solutions.

Dose of reality #1: Countries that have “ universal health care ” do not cover everyone. Great Britain, France, and Canada do NOT offer full health coverage to illegal aliens nor to most visitors with visas. Over a certain age, you cannot get kidney dialysis, hip replacement, or heart surgery.

Dose of reality #2: Assuming the government could provide health insurance for all, without a totally new healthcare system, this will speed up the bankruptcy our nation is currently facing.

Dose of reality #3: Even if we all magically had health insurance, this would not assure us all of health care. For care, you need doctors, nurses, institutions and especially systems. Those are in short supply and the supply is shrinking.

Dose of reality #4: Cutting costs means (to them) reducing payments. Such “cost cutting” not only fails to reduce real costs, it dramatically increases long-term expenditures.

Final dose of reality (for today): President Obama recently used the term “root causes” when referring to healthcare reform. That is good speech writing. Unfortunately, he was disingenuous as he is not discussing much less trying to cure the root causes of unsupportable healthcare expenditures and of system-wide dysfunction.

Forty-six million Americans without health insurance; national healthcare expenditures approaching 20% of GDP; a tsunami of personal bankruptcies due to medical bills; 100,000 who die needlessly each year in U.S. hospitals; growing shortages of doctors and nurses: these are all symptoms of critical illness. They are not root causes. As long as they try to treat symptoms, we will continue to have “ fixes that fail or worse, backfire.”

Fix root causes of healthcare problems or you “fix” nothing.

System MD

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