The term “Health Care Reform” strikes fear into all sides of the political world. Every person has an opinion on what should be done with our health care system, yet as the years continue nothing is done about it. The problem is that we as a society continually spend more than we take in on a variety of things which has put this nation in an economic downturn that desperately needs help. It is the age old adage that you simply cannot spend more than you make. There was an interesting article in Fortune Magazine this month, in which there is an interview by Geoff Colvin who interviewed Dr. Ralph De la Torre, CEO of Steward Health Care System. I have included some excerpts from the interview.
Q: Assuming Obamacare is fully implemented, what are the most important ways in which it will affect our lives?
A: The guiding principles were to do two things. One is to expand coverage. The other is to change the fundamental way health care is structured. Right now we’re a society that believes you lead life the way you want to, and then at the end when the wheels start falling off the cart, you pound it with resources and get interventions from medical specialists to keep you alive longer and healthier. It’s a very back-ended — and because of that a very expensive — way of getting health care.
If we’re going to increase access and engage people to get their health care in a different way, we have to get young people involved. We have to get people who for all practical purposes really don’t need health care insurance. We’re going to be suffering from the fact that we never paid for wellness or prevention in the past, and the baby boomers are now coming of age. We can’t pay for it all without putting a tax on the young — call it what you want to call it, it’s the truth. But by getting the young involved in health care through an individual mandate, it also lets you begin wellness and prevention.
We need to understand as Americans that it’s going to cost us more for the next five, six, seven years or more. There’s no way around it. We’ve increased access, and we’re shifting our care to include more prevention and more wellness, but we can’t turn away the people who weren’t part of that to begin with, so we’re going to be double-paying for a while. In the long run we need to do that. We need to start that shift now.
Medical costs in the U.S. are growing faster than the economy. That trend can’t continue. It’s got to stop, so how is it going to stop?
It stops by attacking the culture, getting people to engage more in wellness and prevention, and also by challenging providers and caregivers to treat based not on hope but on reality.
A lot of us physicians went into medicine because we loved the art aspect of it. There wasn’t a lot of real hard-core science when many of today’s doctors went into medicine. It was your intuition, your abilities, the gestalt of what was going on. But something happened in medicine along the way. It started becoming a real science, and a lot of studies have come out that guide what we do and how we do it. We as a society need to understand that science has to guide our practice of medicine. Not everyone with a headache needs a CAT scan; not everybody with a sprained ankle needs an MRI.
You emphasize the need for greater attention to wellness and prevention. But why haven’t we Americans taken better care of ourselves in the first place?
It’s not who we are. America is a very young country, and we suffer from all the ills of young people: immortality complexes, neglect of our future. America didn’t think it would ever grow old and get sick. We believed in that old line: Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse — until you get old. Then you don’t want to leave a corpse. You want to live forever.
You’ve hosted the President at your house for a Democratic fundraiser. Have you advised him on health care policy?
I always give my opinions, but they’re not always listened to by either side of the aisle. One of the harder realities is that health care reform is not about public health. That’s the mistake people make. In public health policy we try to figure out, say, the incidence of colon cancer in 50-year-olds. We do a study, and we say, “Anybody age 50 or over should get a colonoscopy, and if you have a first-degree relative with colon cancer, it should be at 40.” That’s public health policy.
Health care reform is public finance. And when you get into public finance, it’s not about doing a study to guide policy; it’s about creating a business plan. In a business plan you need an end picture of where we want to be in five or 10 years. For both sides of the aisle, the part that’s missing is an end picture. It’s not about next year; it’s what’s going to happen in five and 10 years, and then let’s back into it. Politically I don’t know if that’s doable, because I’m a businessman, not a politician. Thank God.
I have to agree with De la Torre, the medical industry is definitely behind in the times. The new wave of health care is going to be prevention because something has to change and businesses will continually look for new ways to save money on health insurance. Things such as Corporate Wellness programs and recommendations from doctors to eat healthy and exercise will be the new prescriptions of the 21st century. Xcellerated Speed Training is at the forefront of this new way of thinking by providing things such as: facility design, equipment recommendations, nutritional consultative services, e-newsletters, and group/personal training. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 610 334-4120.