Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wellness Paradigm

During his confirmation hearing for the Department of Health and Human Services, Senator Tom Daschle spoke of the need to shift the focus of the health care system from illness to wellness.

I thought I would point out that this is the direction that a free market would trend. For that matter, the straggling vestiges of the free market that swirl around on the outskirts of the industrial-health-complex are things like doulas, nutritional supplements, gyms, and a ton of weird coaching and spiritual efforts aimed at self improvement.

These efforts are all on the peripheral, and most are marginal concerns.

The industrial-healthcare-complex used the paradigm of illness and marketed fear to roll up the lion's share of the health care pie into wasteful third party health systems (either employer or government funded).

The machine marketed fear of illness, and Americans responded by surrendering the health care to insurance companies, HMOs, government agencies and other third party providers. These agencies leverage our innate fear of illness to tighten their grasp on the industry then use their political clout to drive prices out of the range of the majority of Americans.

Conversely, the machine attacks attempts of the free market to provide wellness centered health services to the public as self-centered greed.

As health care is a direct human to human service, a free market would never have developed this current pricing structure that denies care to so many in our nation.

It takes the corrercive power of monopolies and government to create such an imbalance and unhealthy system.

I agree that our system is flawed. I worry, however, that the left would oppose any system where people played an active role in their lives. I am happy to hear Daschle's rhetoric going in the right direction, but fear that big government agencies bent on pushing the marginal wellness centered health efforts in the free market over the brink.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Daschle is right. We don't have a health centered 'health care system.' We have a disease centered system. And, as recent studies have shown, about 92% of all government expenditures in that system are for procedures that are effective less than 6% of the time.

The problem we run into when government decides that we need new wellness initiatives is that the only real tools available to it are politics and coercion.

Wellness policies will be designed by a process of political wrangling. Thus, they will become as strange and convoluted as the tax code. These screwed up policies will also be coercively applied like the tax code. Get ready for the fast food police. The result will be significantly limited freedom with no substantial improvement in health.

y-intercept said...

I agree that the methods that Daschle is likely to choose will be antithetical to his goal.

The way I see it. Republicans aren't allowed to create paradigm shifts. If Republicans were wise, they would grab this one, and really pound on the message that releases the free market would lead to wellness.

Democratics are adept at stealing Republican ideas; So, I think their paradigm shifts should be fair game.