The healthcare world is in trouble. Obviously, that is why the Affordable Care Act was passed and a plethora of articles, such as the recent 31 page “tome” in Time, are written each month on the issue. Sometimes, it really is best to just let a few graphs or pictures make the point. Look at Ezra Klein’s recent blog and just let reality sink in.
Ezra is a policy “wonk” which is defined in Merriam-Webster as a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field. Some say the word wonk is just another term for nerd. To me the word preoccupied could be replaced with caring. Some would say Paul Ryan is a budget “wonk” or put another way he cares so much about the budget that he tries to get all the details right. Even those that disagree with his politics admit the man really cares about the numbers. The same could be said about the material Ezra Klein puts on his wonk blog. Go back and really look at the graphs,
Perhaps it is time for some personal reflection. Do you just work in the industry or do you really care about it? Are you a wonk, digging like crazy to get to the bottom of issues because you are concerned about the economics of healthcare or do you think that is somebody else’s job? What are your thoughts on making the industry more sustainable? Are you part of the problem or the solution? Are you thinking short-term or long-term? Would you encourage your kids to get in the industry? If not, what are you doing to fix things?
Like so many other things it is very easy to ignore the problems because they just seem so big. I just got a note from a good friend that compared our industry to the mature auto industry of a decade or so ago. She is so right. That industry hit bottom and if you have watched it lately you see very caring, dedicated car people clawing their way back. Who will do that in our industry? The scary thing for the industry is that when looking at the graphs the answer is so obvious. We either need to do something drastic to eliminate the upside outliers and really tighten the range of costs or some type of single payer system will be needed to do this for us.
That result would be deadly for the industry, but not sure it would be for society. Look at the graphs and note that most, if not all, of those to the left of the US all have single payer systems of some sort. Keep in mind that if there were graphs showing the outcome of all this spend we would merely be in the middle of the pack. We are not getting return for our investment. We need some creative thinking, and need it fast, to allow us to maintain the system we love and bring down costs at the same time. Perhaps we need to all act more like wonks. We need to dig in, stop talking about the problems, face reality and begin to fix things!