Health Care Reform, the Napkin Version

Back in March, I posted a series on Health Care Reform:

My goal was to lay a foundation of impartial information before the hyper-partisan  media, parties, politicians and their minions took over the conversation. The posts generated some good conversation and I think they helped to inform those who were genuinely interested in learning about health care reform rather than simply parroting whatever their favorite news media celebrity told them to say.

Since then, I’ve stayed on the sidelines as the issue slid down into the sewer of American politics and the cesspool of what passes for civil debate.

Today I came across an interesting presentation on health care reform that was selected the SlideShare slide deck grand prize winner out of 3,750 entries from over 130 countries.

Like anything else attempting to cover a complex topic in a short form, it’s got some flaws and omissions, but it’s a pretty good summary of how things stand and used a great metaphor for communication: the back of a napkin.

From the health care system standpoint, probably its most glaring omission/fault is that the authors apparently have very little understanding of how insurance works in the U.S. market. For instance, they completely omit the impact of having everyone in the pool.

But otherwise, it is probably middle-of-the-road enough to anger people on both ends of the political spectrum, and since Health Care Reform has joined every other significant social issue in the U.S. in being entirely partisan politicized, that’s not an entirely bad thing.

My favorite slides are:

I like this one because it illustrates the fact that if we do nothing, like some would prefer, the country goes bankrupt (as if it isn’t already, but that’s another conversation).

For people with access to quality care at affordable prices, there is essentially no propensity or motivation to change the health care system. It takes some thinking and vision to realize that just because you’ve got it good, the entire system is going to come crashing down if something isn’t done. And quickly.

For those of us who did the societal scale economic modeling of all of this more than a decade ago, the temptation is to say, “I told you so,” but that does not contribute anything positive. The situation is what it is. Costs are spiraling out of control, and they are going to destroy the country and our way of life, probably a lot sooner than any group of terrorists will.

And that’s the reason for my second favorite slide:

Although there are millions upon millions of dollars being shoved into our elected representatives hands to “fix health care-and make sure it’s good for me,” in reality, the only thing that is being significantly addressed or altered in any of the existing proposals is insurance. The primary things that drive costs are not being addressed, and first and foremost among those drivers is defensive medicine.

The reason defensive medicine is not being addressed is that, as Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic party, put it, “Nobody wants to take on the trial lawyers.”

So, after all of this screaming and shouting and blogging and protesting and stuffing of cash into Senator’s freezers, where will we end up?

Right back in the same situation a few years from now, once we all realize that costs are still spiraling out of control because every single doctor in America has one primary motivation every minute of every day: cover my ass.

The full presentation is here, and it’s worth watching. Tip: There’s a “full” button you can click to see the slides full screen.

View more documents from Dan Roam.

One thought on “Health Care Reform, the Napkin Version

  1. Mike Cannon

    In all the discussion on this problem – this is the first time I have seen the cost of Medical Care mentioned.

    Here is the ultimate problem: $4000.00 a night for a hospital room
    $425.00 Lab fee for a simple blood
    $250.00 For a 5 minute Office Call
    $50.00 E.R. basic charge, plus any
    other charge.
    $5 to 600.00 For an ambulance
    $3.000.00 For a wheel chair
    Insurance is supposed to be protection for the premium payer-
    Medical Insurance makes the premium payer a “Patsy” –
    The more insurance there is the higher the medical cost is going to go. The higher the medical cost – the less coverage for the insured.

    The people in foreign countries have to wait so long for attention because – their doctors are all over here getting rich.

    And any one of these would be more than an adequate charge.


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