The debate about health care seems to follow a common pattern: The debate starts with people complaining about something. When the complaints hit a shrill pitch, a progressive steps in and says the answer is a new government program and greater centralization of the health care system.
To get the debate turned around, we need to start the debate by talking about positive trends in health care. If people talked about the positive trends, the public at large would end up favoring less centralization and greater control over their personal health.
My contention is that the best way to handle health care is to get the insurance companies and government out of picture and to let people have direct personal relations with their health care providers. By making a direct contract with the health care professional, the person needing health care will receive better, more personalized service.
One of the most interesting examples of direct personal relations with health care providers is a new trend in the birthing process called the Doula. A doula is a person who works with expectant moms through the pregnancy, birth and post partem process. A doula is not a midwife. A doula might best be described as a lay person who provides support for the mom. The doula is concerned with what the mom is eating, how she feels and is available for the very necessary hand holding that needs to take place in the process.
A doula is a trained professional. Hiring a doula has proven has direct benefits. For example the use of doulas in the birthing process has been shown to decrease the need for cesarian sections by half and to decrease the need for forceps in birth, etc..
Here are links to doulas and related services in Salt Lake and Denver.
Because doula services depend on a more personal connection between the caregiver and patient, they tend to be small businesses and sole proprietorships. As with other small business, doula services tend to have extra offerings to help make ends meet. Michelle Scharf of Kaysville provides an interesting examples of the directions a person might take their doula business. Michelle adds massage therapy and birth photography to her bag of tricks.
The primary offering of doula services is time. Hence, the cost of services is generally the cost of labor with some additional training. Nicole of Denver is a newly trained doula and is currently offering discounted services as she works to extablish a reputation.
We tend to think of health care providers as things that come from another planet. The grandiose health care schemes of Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton and the like are all premised on the idea that health care is some sort of limited resource that must be rationed.
The super dynamic doula industry shows the real nature of health care. Health care is about people serving the needs of other people in the community. In the doula industry we see caregivers entering and dropping back to other professions as supply and demand waxes and wanes.
Health care is the quintessential local business. 90% of quality health care is time and effort. The doula sits there with the mom helping her make the decisions, prepare for birth and to deal with the new infant and post partem depression. This is a lot of very valuable work. The work, however, comes from the community served. In a free society, that money stays in the community. The costs of the doula services simply reflect prevailing wages. So, its not like there will be a community that can't afford the services.
NOTE, in both socialized medicine and employer based insurance, the money leaves the community, goes to the center of power, then trickles back into the community. Only some 60% of the resources spent on such schemes managed to make it back into the community.
Birthing services, by the way, are one of the greatest failures of the insurance industry. Insurance companies are prone to treat pregnancy as a pre-existing service and deny claims to new policy holders. On the reverse side, juries are known to reward outrageous sums to people who lose children at birth. So, the insurance agencies wham doctors with malpractice premiums that triple the cost of care.
The insurance industry reams expectant moms in two directions by systematically denying claims and pushing up costs to the point that basic care causes extreme financial duress for new families when their claims are denied.
The doula industry is shows how health care should work. People from the community freely work with people in the community to provide care. This stands in stark contrast to the bastardized health care that gets provided when government, politicians, lawyers, insurance companies and other bureaucrats get involved.