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10 Opinions – 10 Way

February 9, 2008

I like number 7 the best…

10 Ways to Fix Health Care: Opinions from 10 Experts

1. Mend the medical schools
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thinks the country needs more medical schools an that doctors, nurses, vets need to learn together. Beginning their education at once, Gerberding says, can encourage healthcare professionals to cooperate and develop a shared mission.

2. Single-payer insurance
Dr. Michael Ozer, a San Antonio-based pediatrician and a member of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), says that the country needs to expand health coverage and lower its costs at the same time. The only way to do this, he asserts, is through single-payer national health insurance, or NHI. The approach is similar to healthcare programs in Canada and Britain.

3. Individual, not company, plans
Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute and co-author of the forthcoming 2nd edition of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It, says market forces bear no consequence on rising healthcare costs. Doctors and insurance companies get away with charging high prices because government programs encourage employer-controlled insurance. More people could benefit if they kept the same insurance plan even if they didn’t keep the same job.

4. Divert the dollar to the doc
Orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Neil Thomas Katz, on the other hand, says that the dollar needs to go to the doctors, not the patients, the insurance companies or the government.

“The solution is simple. Doctors and hospitals need to be paid at least as much as it costs to take care of you. We should not be losing money,” Katz states.

5. Pay for the care of populations, not events
Donald Berwick, a Massachusetts pediatrician and the president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, touches upon several ways to transform healthcare. One area he focuses on involves making healthcare a pattern, not a response to a particular occurrence.

6. Cut costs for med students
Like CDC head Julie Gerberding, Robert B. Goldberg, who heads the Medical Society of the State of New York, also points to medical school as the place to start change. But his argument focuses on the costs to students, not the separation of education. Large amounts of debt, he says, forces many medical students to specialize in one area instead of becoming the more needed primary care physicians.

7. Eliminate insurance altogether
Tennessee emergency and internal medicine physician Dr. Robert Berry has taken a groundbreaking approach to giving individuals better access to healthcare — he eliminated insurance all-together at his clinic. His7,500-some-odd patients pay for their visits themselves, because Berry does not accept insurance or third-party payments like Medicare.

8. More health centers
New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith wants to see more affordable, community health centers around the country. Such facilities treat patients regardless of their ability to pay medical fees and aim to alleviate the pressure at hospital emergency rooms. They also tend to help underserved, low-income and minority populations who often can not afford or acquire health insurance.

9. Stimulating positive-sum competition
Harvard University professor Michael E. Porter says the healthcare system has it all wrong — it system favors price over value. To set the system toward the latter, healthcare providers, payers and employers purchasing health plans must all change their tact. Ways to stimulate this change include making information more accessible.

10. Keep it low-tech
Dr. Dean Ornish, the founder, president, and director of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, CA, said low-technology approaches to preventive healthcare can help cut healthcare costs. Though preventive programs incorporating diet, exercise and stress management might cost more money upfront, overall costs will drop by 30 percent and may save the patient from going for tests and getting treatment with expensive machinery.

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