A Bold Plan Health Care

It’s Time to Change the Health-Care Play

A good friend once said to me, “If you put a bunch of smart people in a room with all the facts up on a board, 90% of the time they will come up with the same solutions

A good friend once said to me, “If you put a bunch of smart people in a room with all the facts up on a board, 90% of the time they will come up with the same solutions–even if they have dramatically different political affiliations.”

One of the biggest issues we have as a nation is our health-care system. We have the highest health-care costs in the world while our results rank 55th out of 57 industrialized countries. And yet, year after year, we keep running the same play. If we truly want the United States to be the greatest country in the world, we need to have the best health-care system in the world.

Visualize walking into an office with 12 smart Americans: men, women, Republicans, Democrats, independents–just smart people with open minds. As you sit down at a table there are two massive white boards. One white board is labeled The Problem, while the other white board says “The Solution”.

The Problem board is already filled with eight indisputable facts:

  1. The United States has the highest health-care costs in the world. In 2021, we spent $4.3 trillion as a nation—almost $13,000 per person—on health-care. That’s 18.3% of our GDP.  
  2. The United States ranks 55th out of 57 industrialized countries for overall health, as surveyed in the Bloomberg 2020 Health Efficiency Index.
  3. Our health-care system puts 530,000 of our fellow Americans into bankruptcy every year because they cannot pay their medical bills.
  4. The average Italian citizen will live six years longer than the average American, even though we spend almost twice as much per person on healthcare as our friends in Italy.
  5. The health-care lobby has spent $11.2 billion lobbying Washington since 1998 to maintain the status quo and increase their profitability.
  6. Our nation is now buried in $34 trillion of debt. The largest single driver of that debt is health-care costs.
  7. We spend more than $280 billion per year on prescription drugs in the United States. If our drug prices simply matched those of other countries, that bill would fall by 66 percent to $94 billion.
  8. The average American today weighs 30 pounds more than the average American weighed 60 years ago. More than 40% of our population is considered obese and, by 2030, the projection is that number could be 50%.

After discussing each of these problems, it’s time for the group to turn to the second white board where the puzzle to be solved is framed: “How do we transform a health-care system that delivers almost the worst results in the world at the highest cost into a health-care system which delivers the best results in the world at a reasonable cost?”

The group then discusses potential solutions and ultimately lists three on the board:

  1. Create an amazing national health-care program for those on Medicare, Medicaid or for those who do not have insurance. Hire an A-team to create the best health-care product in the world. Give the team six months to present the program to the American people. Keep Election Day political considerations out of the plan.
  1. Launch a national program to get Americans healthy by setting a goal of reducing the obesity rate from 42% to 20% in the next five years. (If we were able to do this, health-care costs would plummet, and mental health would improve significantly.)
  1. Prohibit health-care related companies from making campaign donations.  This money preserves and expands the current system, which is the most expensive in the world and produces the worst results.

If you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, it jumps out. If you put a frog in a pot of water at room temperature and increase the temperature by 1° every minute the frog gets used to its environment and ultimately boils to death. The United States health-care industrial complex is bankrupting the country while providing a product that is ranked 55th out of 57 industrialized nations. Our leadership on both sides of the aisle are watching this train wreck and, at best, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  

As citizens, we need to push our public servants to improve the health-care system while practicing fiscal responsibility by taking on our largest deficit driver. We are now in the midst of one of the most consequential presidential campaigns of the last 100 years. Our candidates should be discussing their plan for fixing the health-care system. So far, on a scale of 0 to 5, I would give both candidates a zero.

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See ‘A Bold Plan For America’ for citations.