Saturday, September 20, 2008

The economy and healthcare

The volatility of the stock market has everyone scared. What's the economy going to look like next year? These are really uncertain times. How can one person (the president) significantly change the economy?

As I think about the stock market, I also find myself reflecting on the healthcare system. The upcoming presidential election will dramatically impact the future of the healthcare system. Can you imagine what universal healthcare coverage will look like in the United States? Having worked in the VA healthcare system, I see what universal coverage might look like. Our veterans have access to some of the most sophisticated medical technology along with free medications through the VA system. However, how would you rate the quality of care they receive? If you've never worked in a VA hospital before, then you have no idea. I don't mean to criticize the VA system. I think our veterans deserve more than they receive, but these are government dollars that are being spent to provide for their healthcare needs. Some may argue that our veterans receive excellent health benefits, while others may easily say they deserve more. Considering the rising cost of healthcare, many will be glad to receive any level of care along with free medications.

Are patients really consumers? Should they be offered sales, discounts, and special bargains? Should they be "shopping around" for their healthcare services? At the end of the day, will the healthcare provider who offers the "best bargain" win?

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