Is it fun paying that amount for health insurance every year? No, it really isn’t. But I am okay with it because ultimately I know that it allows our team members and their families to be protected by the best healthcare professionals that this world has ever known. I like that a lot and, yes, my own family has benefitted greatly from it as well.
Ultimately, of course, the price that my company pays for health insurance is borne by our customers. There is no magic kitty from which those funds can come. And, when our health insurance costs increase, it means we have to increase our prices. So do our competitors and everyone else … and that fuels inflation. Of course, no one likes inflation but that is part of the game in which we play.
There’s an old axiom in business that starts with there being three basic ways an organization can provide goods or services that are attractive to customers. Those three possibilities are: 1) High Quality; 2) Fast; and 3) Low Cost. The axiom is that an organization can never fulfill more than two of those three things when providing their good or service. Most successful companies meet two of those criteria. Less successful companies tend to only meet one or sometimes even none.
In other words, consumers can buy things one of these ways:
A) High Quality and Fast, but not Cheap
B) Fast and Cheap but not High Quality
C) Cheap and High Quality but not Fast
For all my life, our country has benefitted from a healthcare system that generally was A) above – High Quality and Fast but not Cheap.
It’s nice to think that we could have a system that was High Quality, Fast, and Low Cost but, time and again, that combination of things has proven impossible for any good or service of any type.
On a subject like healthcare, given the three possible combinations, I think we will all agree that High Quality and Fast is the most desirable.
So, if we want to change something about healthcare, is it safe to say that we want to keep it High Quality and Fast? Doing so means it won’t be cheap.
So, if it can’t possibly be made to be cheap, the question is this: Can the government make it less “not cheap” than it is today? Regardless of which side of the political fence you fall on, or even if you often find yourself straddling the fence, I think we will all agree that government’s track record of making things less “not cheap” is not good … as in the two pretty much can’t go together.
So, that brings me to what I think is the real question that our government needs to examine as it looks at healthcare – what really is wrong with they system we have now?
The answer to that is simple – healthcare is expensive and some folks can afford neither care nor insurance. But we’ve already established that we don’t want to give up on High Quality and Fast … and that Cheap is not possible in conjunction with those things. See the issue? Our healthcare system today is exactly where free enterprise puts it. Are there things that could be tweaked? Absolutely … but is there really any hope that a major overhaul can improve things? I for one don’t see how.
So, what do we do about folks who can’t afford healthcare or insurance? Well, fact is, hospitals and health practitioners already give millions and millions of dollars of free services each year to those without health insurance. Hospitals pay for that in three ways: 1) Increased billings; 2) Donations; and 3) Income from foundations. The mounting problem now is that hospitals are facing more demand than ever before for free healthcare, due to unemployment being high. And also, they are experiencing a decline in charitable giving as well as in interest receipts from their foundation investments.
Not a good situation.
In my opinion, that is the situation that really needs to be addressed. Keep our healthcare Fast and High Quality … and build a system that better allows healthcare practitioners and hospitals to provide free services to folks based upon need.
Obviously, I can be a bit biased and simplistic but the answer to all of that in my book is that government needs to support and further businesses – “Main Street” in particular. Ultimately, that is the only way the system works well. Any other approach and you can bet that “Fast” or “High Quality” or perhaps even both will be lost and my money is on the guess that they will not be replaced by “Low Cost” either.