Press-Republican

Read

January 13, 2013

A better way for medical care

The United States provides some of the best medical care in the world.

Yet, we lag behind some other nations in the use of technology in medical records. Our system imposes upon its residents one of the world’s highest costs, as a share of gross domestic product. We have one of the highest rates of residents unable to receive medical care. And, without major innovation and reform, we will be unable to produce prosperity for our children and health for our elderly.

These seemingly contradictory facts are not surprising, once one understands how medical care is delivered in this country. The system was designed three quarters of a century ago so large companies could attract new workers but without offering higher wages. Employers provide health care by paying insurers, and insurers pay providers to care for workers. It has produced a patchwork system that discourages worker mobility just as corporations are unable to commit long term to their employees. Our system has also evolved to treat the disease rather than the customer, and ties workers with pre-existing conditions to employers rather than to a better skills match.

The good news, though, is that there are some excellent examples of innovation, especially right here in Clinton County.

The strength and weakness of health care American style is that it rewards greatness. A renowned surgeon or specialist, a highly reputable teaching hospital, or an innovative clinic attracts those who demand the best and can afford it. Excellence is rewarded, and prima-donna professors at medical-research centers encourage it. Often, the general practitioner becomes a mere middleman between patient and specialist. There is a distinctive hierarchy, with medical salaries keeping score.

Our system directs more and more of our medical-school graduates to the more scarce and rarified specialties that garner the greatest salaries to pay off their exorbitant student loans. This bias toward the best encourages excellence, but at a price.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Read
  • colin_read.jpg Good organizations lack drama

    Groups that accomplish their objectives do so with a minimum of distraction and politics, focusing instead on creativity and a dynamic vision, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Parking fines a short-sighted policy

    Tourists should be encouraged to do business downtown without fear of getting tickets, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Technical training a key part of education

    Recently honored, Champlain Valley Educational Services offers meaningful careers for those not heading for college, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Constitution withstands test of time

    The nation's founding document is a delicate balance that we should continue to nurture, according to columnist Colin Read.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg This region helped shape a new nation

    As we celebrate our nation's history, we must also appreciate the key role the North Country played in the founding of two countries, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Diversity of views a key to progress

    With today's mobile society and 24-hour media, like-minded people tend to congregate together stifling diversity of opinion, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Local heros needed to inspire us all

    It takes individual talent and initiative to truly move a community forward to fulfill its economic destiny, according to columnist Colin Read.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Fee on carbon needed

    Creating incentives to curb emissions is critical to containing climate change, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Governor inspires renewed shared-services effort

    Tax-cap plan has provided incentives for municipalities to get together to try and increase savings and efficiency, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Pipeline issue has no simple answer

    If Alberta oil is not transported through Keystone, it will cause more pollution to send it to China, according to columnist Colin Read.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo