The Coming Medical Revolution
The United States is on the cusp of a new medical revolution, a revolution driven by new technologies unavailable a few short years ago, a realization that the high-priced model of hospital care isn’t working, and an administration in Washington willing to experiment with free market solutions to the problem.
President Trump has been the first chief executive in U.S. history to support innovation and real reform in our health care delivery system. From supporting the critical “Right to Try” legislation to demanding price transparency from hospitals, this Administration is trying to bring down the cost of health care by expanding choice and injecting desperately-needed competition among providers.
“Right to Try” is allowing the fast-tracking of new life-saving medications and other therapeutics to the market which are improving and extending the lives of those critically ill from cancer and other deadly diseases. Price transparency is vital to ending the secret agreements between hospitals and insurance companies to hide their massive inflation of the true cost of health care, allowing people – as in any other industry – to know the price of a product before purchasing it. Recently, the President signed an Executive Order expanding Medicare coverage for telemedicine. This allows senior citizens to receive medical care from the comfort of their homes, without long waits to see their physician. Expanding short-term insurance policies and enabling association health care policies are permitting more Americans greater flexibility when it comes to determining the most cost-effective health plan for themselves and their families.
With the Internet, doctors today are less dependent on in-office visits to see their patients. Simple diagnoses of common illnesses can be made over the phone, through Facetime, Zoom, or Skype. Individuals can access online physicians by credit card and receive immediate attention. The horse-and-buggy days of scheduling visits, waiting in crowded reception lobbies, and having only a few minutes to see your provider ( or perhaps just a physician assistant ) are becoming a thing of the past. Concierge and direct primary care doctors will come to your home or office, if necessary. They can draw blood, run an EKG test, and utilize mobile x-ray devices, eliminating the need to go to a lab or imaging center. Many such physicians even have limited in-office pharmacies, allowing patients to pay negotiated wholesale prices for some drugs. If surgery is required, they have contracts with local out-patient surgery centers which can perform many routine surgeries at a fraction of the cost of hospitals, sometimes 60% less. There are now over 5,000 physicians providing some sort of DPC care, up from less than 200 in 2005.
Even as radical Democrat progressives shout for a “single-payer” health care system, their “top-down” model is already falling apart and has been for years. Doctors are burned out and bummed out. They are leaving their profession in droves or not entering medical school at all. After all, who wants to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and devote so many years of their lives in order to spend most of their time arguing with insurance companies or entering data on a computer? A return to patient-centered care is truly the wave of the future.
In the new medical revolution of the coming decades, the patient will be in full control of his or her health care, not the government and not an insurance company. That patient can choose any physician he wants to see, unrestricted by insurance “networks.” Physicians’ prices will be posted clearly on the Internet. Instead of co-pays and deductibles, individuals can purchase a “gym-style” monthly membership, allowing them unlimited visits and access to their physician by any preferred venue, 24/7. Low-income patients or seniors will receive government vouchers to pay for their care. Patients will have easy access to their personal medical records through a phone app, making it easy to transfer from one doctor to another.
Overpriced hospital care will become obsolete as physicians will offer a greater number of procedures now done in a hospital setting within their own walls or within the walls of specialists or surgery centers they are contracted with. Hospitalization will be required only as a last resort, not a first choice and with the pricing for each procedure provided up-front. This will allow patients to shop around for the best deal and be assured that they are getting what they pay for. No surprise bills. Insurance companies will be forced back to the outside perimeters of health care, again offering simple “catastrophic” policies instead of all-encompassing policies with outrageous premiums and deductibles which allow them to dictate the type of medical care you receive. If you have insurance, you will “own” it and carry it from job to job, just like your automobile or house insurance.
This is an exciting vision, but it is more than that. It represents the future direction of health care in America. Since the Great Society of the 1960s, it’s been assumed that Big Government and Big Business can run health care in an overtly fascistic
fashion. That model has failed miserably, leading to some of the highest health care costs on the planet and no improvement in the quality of care. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and AOC would double-down on this failure through a fully government-run system. However, the genie is already out of the bottle and there’s no going back. The future belongs to choice, not coercion; markets, not mandates and the inexorable advance of modern technology and smart medicine will ensure that not even AOC can stop that.
Dr. James Veltmeyer is a prominent La Jolla physician voted “Top Doctor” in San Diego County in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Dr. Veltmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by visiting his website at drveltmeyer.com
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