We call it health care but is it really? A person can make a god argument that the health care we provide in the United States isn’t really health care at all, instead its disease care.
Our system treats illness very well but it does a poor job of preventing illness and promoting health. Our current system reimburses for treating illness but what if we were reimbursed for preventing disease rather than treating it.
Reimbursement drives health care delivery, after all, we can only do what we are paid for. Money isn’t the only reason health care exists but without money we can’t keep the lights on and the doors open. Health care is expensive and there’s been a lot of discussion at the national level about out of control health care spending but instead of looking at spending maybe we should be looking at investing and return on investment.
For most of us the greatest health care expense we will ever realize will be in the last 6 months of our life and that’s because the last 6 months of our life is when we will be our sickest. Does that spending over the last 6 months of our life make us better? Probably not or it wouldn’t be the LAST 6 months of our life. Does that spending improve our quality of life or simply prolong it? That’s not a question I can answer but in many cases it probably just prolongs an illness.
Recent health care reform measures were focused on making sure everyone had insurance but providing insurance doesn’t get at what needs to occur to reduce health care spending. The purpose of health care should be to provide health and health is what we should care about especially when its our own health. Health insurance does not give people health, prevention does.
Our current health care system is really disease care and until we can figure out a way to fund and promote prevention we will never really have health care. In the current system there is no incentive to invest in things with a long-term return and prevention would provide a long-term return and over time reduce health care spending.
When I was in under grad I had a professor who asked this question of my class “Would you rather die on the golf course or a hospital bed? The way you live your life over the next 30 years will determine how you die”. Those words didn’t mean much to a 21-year-old college student but they mean a lot in terms of the benefits of prevention as opposed to treatment.
I’m not much of a golfer but I’d rather die with a fishing pole in my hand as opposed to a call light in my hand.