Comments on Mr Zakaria’s Report
Three initial Steps
The information Mr Zakaria provided has led me to think that there are three initial steps in managing universal health care.
1. In my opinion, the first step is a government-run program, which excludes private insurance except for extras, i.e. for what the doctor does not prescribe and for care provided in private hospitals. But that does not preclude a universal health-care program.
2. The second step would be strict regulation concerning the price of pharmaceutical products. Pharmaceutical companies sell medication as though each pill or capsule or whatever was a precious diamond.
3. As for the third step, it would be regulation of fees paid to medical practitioners. At the moment, these fees are not consistent with their years of training and competence. Nor are these fees consistent with the fees paid other well-trained or better-trained individuals. Often, these better-trained individuals are on salary.
As a University teacher, I had to deal with students who would come to my office to request very high marks because they wanted to study medicine and enter a profession that would earn them a few luxuries. So I would explain that they would have to earn their good grades. Many did and I was proud of them.
I do not wish to impoverish medical doctors and I fully realize that they require offices and secretaries, but so do other professionals. Normally, these expenses are tax-deductible to a reasonable degree.
Doctor-Patient Confidentiality, but a Database
As well, I believe that the doctor-patient confidentiality must be maintained and that one should still choose one’s own doctor,* except that information with respect to the medication an individual is taking, his or her allergies, a health history (surgical procedures, an earlier or on-going illness, etc.) should be available. It seems there should be a national databank accessible to the staff of emergency-care units. Accidents happen.
*I live in Canada but have always had my own doctors.
What if these three steps are not taken?
If these three steps are not taken, there will have to be a sizeable increase in taxes and the rich will have to pay their fair share of taxes. This is plain common sense.
The Other Side of the coin
Moreover, no system can work if people themselves do not look after their health. Smoking and obesity are killers. There are, of course, a few exceptions but, generally speaking, smoking and obesity are killers and obesity is not necessarily genetic. In cases where a condition is genetic, the need for medical attention is legitimate. But nothing is black and white.
There is a lot more to say, but there are authorities in this area. However, these three points seem an essential starting-point. Health care, including medications, is too expensive.
March 22, 2012