During the Democratic candidate debates last night, there was cursory discussion about solutions for our broken health care system. Here's my solution, one I haven't heard proposed yet. And one that will work...
The Health Care and Insurance system in the United States is clearly broken! Patients, doctors, employees, employers and nurses are not benefiting or being served. The pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and lawyers are. It's backwards!
Below is my solution. It is longer term and it will work -- because it addresses causes and not symptoms (and it acknowledges what motivates people -- money). The present system and fix proposals are dealing in the realm of symptoms.
I'm 63 years old. I've been paying health insurance premiums since 1964. Not once in all those years have I ever received a payment or benefit from my insurance company. Not once. I'm healthy, and have rarely even filed a claim. And yet, this year my Blue Cross health insurance premium increased 35% from $278 per month to $374 per month. It increased 17% the year before. The only reason the premium is this "low" is because I increased the deductible to the maximum allowed; I have never spent enough on allowable health care to reach the deductible limit.
Many citizens aren't insured because of the expense. People are claiming bankruptcy because of huge medical costs. Businesses are struggling because of the huge health care costs. And citizens are not as healthy and well as they could be.
When I got the last notice of my health insurance premium increase I said to myself, "That does it! There must be something better for someone in my condition -- healthy and rarely filed a claim nor received a benefit." With extensive search I did find coverage that was marginally better. I began my search thinking that there must be a company that writes insurance for someone who takes good care of himself and is in the top 10% of the population in terms of some kind of health measurement. And if there were such a company the premiums must be considerably lower because the claims would be so much lower. I found that there wasn't such a company. Why not? The system is broken. It's designed to deal with sickness and disease, not health and wellness -- two very different focuses and intentions.
So, here's the idea. I, and millions like me, have a preventative focus on health, wellness. We are non-smokers who eat organic healthy foods, drink plenty of water, practice proper food combining, get regular exercise, drink alcohol minimally, attend self-development seminars, practice stress reducing techniques (such as meditation and relaxation), avoid drugs (including pharmaceuticals), see alternative health practitioners (such as chiropractors, nutritionists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, homoeopathists, massage therapists...), take vitamin and mineral supplements, are involved in a regular spiritual or religious practice, associate with positive friends, get regular sleep and do work we love. As a result, we have fewer illnesses, less disease and sickness. We spend less money on hospitals, pills, doctor visits, medical tests and procedures...
If an enlightened leader of some insurance company would target that population and begin writing health insurance for them I'm sure the actuaries would show that the claims would be low and therefore premiums would be low.
If I were paying a low insurance premium, less than $150 a month say, with health insurance with coverage equivalent to my old policy I would be telling my friends about it! During dinner conversations, at parties, office meetings, on the golf course, at the pub, anywhere, they would want to know how they too could reduce their premiums to that low level. That could only happen if they began taking better care of their health. They would have incentive to educate themselves about, and begin practicing, a healthier lifestyle. This could eventually spread exponentially (from the inside out) one by one, two by two, four by four... Why? Because money drives the system and most people's decisions. If companies and individuals could save significantly on their health care costs they would be motivated and encouraged to make necessary, healthy changes.
SCREENING AND INTAKE QUESTIONNAIRE
In order to qualify for the insurance there would need to be a very thorough screening process and intake questionnaire -- going way beyond giving a discount for non-smokers and living in a particular zip code area (the only present way to get a lower premium). The intake information would be based on the voluminous studies and information currently available, yet not commonly used by the traditional medical system and medical doctors.
In addition to normal health history, the form would need to get specific details about the person's lifestyle--gathering thorough information about such things as:
· If the person is eating properly for their blood and metabolic type.
· How much water, and what kind, do they drink each day (number of ounces equal to their weight divided by two)?
· What percentage of their food is organic?
· If their fish was wild (and not farm raised).
· If their eggs and poultry meat were from free-range chickens fed with organic feed.
· Is beef they ear from organically fed cows, reaised in pastures (not feed lots)?
· Is their body properly alkaline?
· Exercise habits?
· Sleep habits?
· Blood and metabolic type (correlates with diet).
· Preventative health care habits (such as chiropractic, supplementation, massage, nutrition, hobbies, relaxation and meditation, exercise).
· Do they practice any kind of meditation, spiritual exercise or stress reducing techniques?
· Do they attend self-development seminars, receive counseling, or therapy?
· Are they doing work they love?
· Do they consider that they have life-style balance?
For example, the intake questionnaire would need to ask more than, "Do you exercise?" It would need to get information about what kind of exercise(s), how often, what frequency and how long each period. It is known that different types of exercises are appropriate for different metabolic types and different blood types. Is their exercise consistent with this?
There are now many studies correlating the above type habits with less disease and illness. And, slowly it is being revealed that influences previously believed to have an affect on health don't. For example, recently the major news reported a heart attack study, with 3,000 participants, that showed there was not a correlation between heart problems and heredity.
This is just the outline of the concept and idea. It would work and could be researched, studied and developed in more detail. While the market for this type of health insurance would no doubt be relatively small initially, it would plant seeds and grow. And it would be a major contribution to improving the quality of peoples' lives as they became educated and began practicing new habits.
Many people know they "should" practice more healthy habits, but haven't found the motivation, incentive, courage, inner strength or will to make the changes. A significant monetary savings would provide the motivation for most people.
Surely there is an enlightened leader in the insurance industry who would see the wisdom of an approach like this and would want to explore an opportunity to serve at a level higher than only financial.