How about a nice light topic today?

Tough.

I know I am going to lose some of you, but I was against the Affordable Care Act. Now I know many of you think that means I believe poor people who are sick should just die off, but that is about as far from the truth as possible. I am for Universal Health Care. I am for everyone getting taken care of and receiving the best medical care possible. The ACA does not provide that. It doesn’t come close. All the ACA does is provide are already substandard care onto more people. And you could argue that our pathetic substandard care is better than nothing, and in spirit, I would agree.

But I am thinking big picture here. The ACA doesn’t address the root of our health care problem. It actually makes it worse by contributing to the illusion that money and insurance are the problems. Money isn’t the problem. Insurance isn’t the problem.

The problem is our healthcare system is backwards. The doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical industry – which I call the Medical Machine – only profits when we are sick. The Medical Machine does not profit when we are healthy. So it is in the Medical Machine’s best interest to keep us sick and dependent on continued treatments.

Think about it, the Medical Machine gets paid when you are sick.

And if the prescribed treatment cures your condition, than the Medical Machine gets paid the one time.

But if the prescribed treatment only relieves the symptoms, you have to keep going back to the Medical Machine for more and more treatments, and it gets paid each time.

What is your best interest (staying healthy and getting cured of any disease quickly) is the opposite of what is in the best interest of the Medical Machine (you coming back again and again).

And since the Medical Machine is a “for profit” industry, there is NO AMOUNT OF MONEY you can throw at it that will solve it. The Medical Machine will gobble up every dollar you throw at it and say there isn’t enough to fund their research.

Now, I am not saying that all doctors and hospitals are evil. I believe a large majority of doctors and healthcare workers go into the field to help people. There are far easier ways for smart people to make money. Unfortunately, they are stuck in a system that doesn’t always let them do what they want to do. They are restricted by rules setup by their peers, rules designed to protect the Medical Machine and its profits.

They are hamstrung by what drugs the pharmaceutical companies will produce. And these companies only want to produce drugs that they can profit from. So while nice, safe, healthy treatments with no side effects exist, doctors aren’t allowed to prescribe them because no one has gone through the FDA process of getting them approved. So we are stuck with artificial, sub-par treatments with more side effects than the condition they treat because the pharmaceutical company can patent it and mark it up.

So even the best doctors with the purest of intentions are stuck giving out sub-par treatments.

Interestingly enough, there is one player in the healthcare system whose best interest aligns with our own. One group who profits when we are healthy; one group who profits when we are quickly cured.

The insurance companies.

Seriously, put away the pitch forks and torches.

The insurance companies could be our ally, but we have turned them into the bad guys. Actually, we have allowed the Medical Machine to turn them into the bad guys. So why do we hate the insurance companies so much? Why are they the fall guys?

Well it comes down to this. The Medical Machine is constantly trying to get as much money as it can. When insurance is involved, that means get as much money out of the insurance companies as they can. So they have an entire profession created to understand insurance rules and looking for the best way to code a treatment to get the most money out of it. Sometimes that means splitting up one test into three tests because it pays better that way.

Insurance companies know this is happening. They know the Medical Machine is constantly trying to cheat them out of more money. It has caused their default answer to become “No.”

And that is where the Medical Machine pounces. You see, you only ever hear the Medical Machine’s side of things. “We want to give you X, but they will only let us do Y.” So you get mad at the insurance company.

You don’t hear that the markup on X is ten times the markup on Y. You don’t hear that in 99 cases out of 100, X doesn’t do a better job than Y. You don’t hear about the 500 times per day the Medical Machine tries to slip an X past the insurance companies because if they only get caught 499 times, they are winners.

This is why you think the insurance companies are the bad guys. You only talk to them when you are angry about something.

Now this is not to say that I think the insurance companies are saints. No, I suspect a good number of them would deny every claim if they could. But if they weren’t’ constantly getting hammered by the Medical Machine, I suspect the good ones would shine and the bad ones would go out of business.

So what is the solution?

Its tricky. There is no solution that wouldn’t be painful to implement. We would have to be willing to suffer through a serious reduction in care for a short term while we got things ramped up to a new way of business.

You could implement a system where doctors get a flat fee from their patients every month. No matter what treatments are incurred, the doctor gets paid the same. That would encourage prevention and natural treatments. It would also require a lot of personal responsibility on our part. When the doctor says stop eating red meat and walk 20 minutes a day, you would HAVE to do it. You couldn’t blow of the doctor’s advice.

Another option would be to turn the whole Medical Machine into a non-profit model. A lot of the greed would get sucked out of it, and medicine could go back to being what its supposed to be. Helping people.

The truth is, neither option really has much chance of happening. But you can do something about it. Take charge of your own healthcare. Learn about your condition, learn about alternative treatment options. Find a doctor who is supportive of some of these other options and try different ones out. You are the coach and captain of your healthcare team. You give the orders, you make the decisions. Doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare workers are only players. They are there to give you advice but ultimately, they need to run the plays you call – not call the plays.