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Cultural rescue simplified: Auto Safety & Healthcare in one swoop!

February 01, 2007


Nobody likes car wrecks. People get hurt. We see huge campaigns mounted by folks like M.A.D.D.

Cyclists hate bad car drivers, too.

But there, I think, is the key! I've spilled the beans.

I think there should be a huge campaign for DRIVER SKILL.

Sure, maybe half of the harmful (etc.) wrecks involve alcohol and maybe another 30% involve teenage or elderly drivers, but they ALL probably involve BAD DRIVING. So why don't we have an even bigger movement against BAD DRIVERS?

I recall a bright athletic British friend of mine not passing his UK driving test for years. I think they must have a VERY high standard.

What would happen to our accident stats if we, say, doubled the difficulty and frequency of testing, etc., here in the USA? I daresay that all bad things would decrease HUGELY. Isn't that what we want?

But of course it's NOT what we want. We want fun. The USA will never be a skill-based culture. Why? We don't value skill, simple as that. In terms of overall social values, tests are scoffed at. Tests are at least somewhat respected in each various sector of our work life, but our main social value is fun.

***

Along the lines of a knowledge or skill initiative, I think that a simple way to greatly improve biker safety would be to put "Share the Road" posters in every driver's license office. It would be a cheap PR campaign. And then put multiple questions on every state's driver's exam. Include it in all driving courses. Done deal. Basically, I don't think that most PROBLEM drivers today KNOW that they MUST be courteous and cautious around EVERY other road user. Why? They don't see messages to that effect. Cure? Give em to em!

OK, next huge social problem...

***

If we're going to lower healthcare costs there are only two options:

First by far is...

1. people need to use healthcare services less often.

Then...

2. healthcare providers have to charge less; also we have to be willing to have cheaper stuff used on us---a less fancy machine, say.

A third option hovers nearby...

3. healthcare intermediaries need to be eliminated---to eliminate their cost.

For Item #1 to occur we would have to be more healthy and/or less sickness oriented.

I also note that #1 is the only option that we can take care of for ourselves starting today. It's up to each of us.

(I have a doctor friend who says that nearly all his patients would either get better or not regardless of if they came to him. The ones that won't get better he can't help. The ones who will get better only come to him to get over the sickness quicker. In exchange for huge sums of cash. He's happy to oblige everyone.)

For Item #2 to occur we'd have to learn that everyone involved in med's would be happy to earn less. Or we'd have to identify the area where they're earning too much. ...And expect that no one will say they can identify a similar area in our own income. I wonder what area we could find in meds? Let's look at equipment... Here's a nice Xray machine. It costs $100K. It has people happy to buy it because, well, it's really good. It's better than the $75K machine, apparently. To reduce healthcare costs we have 2 options. First, tell the machine makers they're going to have to accept less than $100K. But who sets the price? Also, that best machine is probably a bargain over time. And if they get less, why shouldn't you? What did they do wrong? More likely, we'll just have to do option two and buy the lesser machine. Do we want a crappy machines? We like good machines. That's why healthcare is expensive. If we didn't care about it so much we might be content with mid-rate bargain machines. Let me know when you're ready to make the switch.


For #3 to occur, we'd need to buy our own healthcare. Have our bosses pay our healthcare chunk to us then let us take care of it. Our boss is not our nurse, after all. Those of us who do this tend to then buy catastrophic policies and pay as we go the rest of the time...and pay HALF the typical annual healthcare tab for the same level of actual care. We get the insurer out of the picture, too, for everything but what we truly cannot handle. Yeah, I know we miss out on the big group buy. But that kind of price collusion to get in on them, isn't the answer. Maybe the indy folk can get a group buy for the catastrophic...but that adds in a hydra head again.

I know it might seem wasteful to have everyone handling their own policies---that's a lot of redundancy there, too. Why should everyone have to be an insurance expert? Offhand, competition would seem to result in the lowest cost. Well, what about the single-payer government solution? Let the providers compete to win the gov't contract. That would get rid of the whole insurance mess. Gov't health care brings in its own hydra head---the biggest bureau we can imagine. It wouldn't be for just children or the elderly or vets or only for those who drive or vote: it would be for every individual person. Is there another agency that covers so much? Still, it's probably worth considering, though.

We're all in this health thing together, after all.

How to get some national health uplift anyway?

What's the main cause of illness? Probably 3 things: idleness, bad food, risky behavior.

Cures? A national push to be active, eat right and think safe. TV, partying, junk food and intense-anything, like sports, would all have to be castigated.

I suppose that for any of this to work we'd need a functional, healthy culture at the core. Without that, it's all going down.

Offhand, I'd say our nation is totally freaked out and obsessed about healthcare. We have literally millions of lazy pigs fretting over slivers and insisting on 24-7 hightech response to their every woe. We love meds and want a cure for every trouble that we directly cause ourselves by being idiots. We don't want to deal with life or our personal misery so we're happy to work overtime to pay the bill to buy the meds to make it all go away. In a streamlined hightech way. I know folks who've spent thousands, perhaps a hundred$K by now, on their bad back. They think their policy has covered it all. That it's free. But they won't lift a finger to live right so they don't ruin their back in the first place. Everyone needs a holistic daily practice, don't they? Has there been a people, race, culture, civilization, that has thrived without such a thing? Has "do nothing but work, drive everywhere, pig out, couch potato" been a formula for any form of success ever in the world? No. But it has been a rock solid ticket to misery and a close and frequent relation to pricey healthcare. Unless you just ignore it, skip the doc, and get by if you can. Many do that, too. But we were whining about healthcare.

Does anyone see another option?

I see a couple worth exploring. One is that the free market doesn't deliver the cheapest goods but the most expensive: providers collude. There's no insurance for animal care, for vets. It's a free market. I doubt there's 100th the liability either. Yet sometimes it seems like we pay more for vet goods and services than for comparable human stuff. Other times we pay less. Why? Why don't vets compete? Instead they seem to informally collude. Yet...there are occasional vets who don't play the game. A vet is, after all, free to set a price. We know an old country vet who is kinda crabby who is very cheap. He's semi-retired. His hours are limited. His waiting room is PACKED a half hour before he takes his first patient. There's huge demand for affordable vet care. Why won't the market meet that demand?

On the human scene, if you pay cash for meds, you pay 10X what a big plan pays out for the same meds. You have no bargaining power. You gain nothing by shopping around. Or do you?

The second option for pay-out is if healthcare prices are set by the government. This supposedly eliminates salesmen and the insurance middleman. But doesn' it bring in the lobbyists by the horde? Yet a Britisher I know says the overall health tab is much lower. Health-related taxes are lower, too. But who knows how that would play in the USA. Britain still has the vestige of a culture. The USA leans on docs like they lean on TV. What would we do with the idea of "free health care"? I think we'd attack it like an all-you-eat buffet. Do we possess the idea that our health is our personal #1 duty? Hmmm...doubtful. But it's worth a thought. Worth a try? Seems a bit like uncorking a dam, but whatever, the current situation is in the same boat.


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