One of the benefits of being an author is that you have near-unlimited time to ruminate about how you would do things differently, if only the world would recognize your genius. One sees this often. An author will rail against the stupidity of the masses, and offer seemingly common-sense (to them) solutions to problems that wreck the intellect of those in power. Usually these ‘solutions’ revolve around the concept ‘do what I say, because I’m smarter than you.’ So, let’s get this out of the way, right now.
I am not smarter than you.
Actually, I don’t believe that anyone is any smarter than anyone else. I personally believe that ‘smarts’ is rather like a D&D experience system. Some people spend their points on cooking. Some spend them on surviving in a harsh world. Many spend them on making money, or raising children, or Game of Thrones trivia, or talking a good game. Spend them where you want, because there’s always someone who has spent theirs (in their opinion) in better ways.
There you have it, I’m not more qualified to have an opinion than you, simply because I know how to spin rhetoric. I have no bona-fides. This is just something for you to think about. Perhaps, given enough interest, some of what I am writing will find its way to those who truly do have positions of authority. Maybe it’s a waste of time. You be the judge.
Currently (and continuing into the future) there is a simmering debate over universal healthcare. Most liberal minds feel that we must have it, for the poor. Most conservative and libertarian minds feel that it is a form of control over the masses, a tool for the government to establish a permanently dependent populace. Both are right. Neither has a viable solution. No, the current ‘Obamacare’ is not a solution. The Affordable Care Act did not make healthcare more affordable, did not improve care, and did not act in any meaningful way (at least not to the benefit of its supposed beneficiaries). In fact, the net result has been to actually increase the overall cost of healthcare. So, what to do?
My solution: McDoctors.
We need universal healthcare. No, I’m not some lib-tard or jack-wad or whatever pejorative epithet you heard on the radio this week. We need it, and it is a matter of national security that we must have it. Consider the following: an individual steps across the US border through purely legal means. That individual is sick with an unknown strain of a brand-new bug–one that is fatal and highly contagious. He walks into the middle of Grand Central Station, has a seat (because he feels ill) and infects a couple thousand people with his new-found disease. What then?
Well, on the national level, there are two choices. We can point to Slobobia as the origin of the bug (once we figure out that it’s present, two weeks later, and then track its origins a month after that, in the midst of a country-wide die-off), or we can treat it and look for a cure. That latter case is currently not possible within our healthcare system.
It isn’t because we don’t care. It isn’t because we want people to die. It’s because the three-fold pressure on our system–quantity of need, quantity of greed, and quantity of regulation–have made it impossible to address any dire population-wide problems without expending the full treasure of the people. So, what are the solutions?
To my limited mind, given the aforementioned qualifications on our respective smartness, the solution is rather simple. Just do it.
Imagine the following system: Everywhere, throughout the United States, stores are allowed to write-off the costs of maintaining an urgent-care facility. They can, given the proper investment, reduce their tax liability to near-zero. Walgreens, WalMart, K-Mart, Target… everyone is allowed into the program. You can stop by Best Buy, or T.J. Maxx, or, heck, TGI Fridays. They have an urgent care facility, staffed by a nurse practitioner (with doctors on-call) who can diagnose illness and offer limited prescription assistance. They can offer discounts to you, if you use their facilities, on anything from medicine, to bar-b-que ribs, to X-rated DVD’s. Because these medical personnel are employed at the behest of a governmental program, they are considered federal employees. This is important, because there are some caveats to this program which demolish the cost of medical care in the US.
Are you lovin’ it?
As federal employees, they may not be sued. The program has an internal system, manned by medical professionals, to eliminate those who do not follow best practices or are just really bad at their job. The individuals cannot be hit with malpractice suits. Malpractice insurance (the major influence on medical costs, IMHO) is unnecessary.
Anyone can get medical care at these facilities, for free. Just walk in, and they’ll be glad to make you sit and wait, and maybe peruse the menu for your afternoon snack before you get your prescription for birth-control, or Zanex, or your Z-pack of antibiotics. You might have to wait all day to take care of that cold. It might be just a few minutes. You’re getting it for free, and you can always go to a different free clinic, so quit your bitching. A further caveat, here is that you’re going to get bumped out of line if a veteran or senior citizen steps up. They get first-crack at the doctor, because we’re wrapping the VA and Medicare into this program. For those two groups, this is just the first stop for diagnosis and referral to a standard hospital, if necessary, or treatment if the condition is not major. Veterans and Senior Citizens begin to actually receive the same level of care as everyone else. Don’t like being bumped out of line? Go pay for your own birth control. Better yet, get old, or join the military. I don’t care, because this is mass healthcare, not private.
Have it your way. Just make sure it’s on the menu.
While you’re there, you might as well get your medical records transferred to a personal thumb-drive. See, you can do this because one of the conditions for using the free service is that your records will be digitized and stored on a secure government server. Yes, it could get hacked. Good thing we keep backups. Yes, nothing is perfectly secure. However, if you want everything stored on paper, you can damn well pay for your own medical care. You’re getting this for free, and there are paid alternatives. Quit your bitching.
So, when our immigrant friend steps off the plane and into Grand Central Station, sneezes two hundred times, then vomits and wanders into rush-hour traffic, his infectees can, within the next week of realizing that they are now terminally ill, walk right into Hooters, order a plate of hot-wings, get diagnosed, and begin a treatment regimen. Further, as the CDC scrambles to find some sort of cure, or at least a test to diagnose the illness, they can roll-out solutions, nationwide, through an existing network. Everyone just stops through Cabella’s for their immunization and a box of ammo, if they wish, and boom (no pun intended)–done.
I’ll take a 30.06, 400 rounds of red-tip hollow-point, and something for genital warts, please.
This system has its drawbacks. Healthcare at these locations will not be on par with private health-care. If you want the better health-care, you can pay for it. This is bare-bones, keep-the-most-people-alive-as-possible, you-are-just-a-number healthcare. Again, if you don’t like that, maybe you shouldn’t be in favor of a national healthcare system. That’s what NHS generally turns into, wherever it is implemented. It becomes the VA, with all of the associated corruption, ineptitude, and failure. However, it is better than what we currently have.
So, in one fell swoop, with this program we effectively correct the upwards-spiral of healthcare costs. Insurance becomes largely unnecessary. Co-pays drop to minimums as the free-market takes over. All of the middle-men who make money off the fact that you are afraid of your own mortality are pushed back underneath the rocks that spawned them. Malpractice suits become the relative rarity that they once were. Everyone is covered, even people who don’t live here (like tourists, students, and migrant workers).
Will this ever happen? I doubt it. The major beneficiaries of the current system–insurance companies, lawyers, bureaucrats–lose money and influence on the deal. The beneficiaries of the new system–individual companies, ordinary citizens, and doctors–don’t hold the same political clout. However, there is the outside chance… the teensiest possibility… that someone, somewhere, in some half-lit offices will read this, and say, “Hey, that’s complete idiocy. Except for that part. Let’s see if it will get past Congress.”
There you go. This is my open-source offering to the world, fresh from my not-smarter-than-you mind. Go send it to your representatives. Tell them “I want my McDoctors!” Or don’t. Really, I couldn’t care less. The figurative ball is in your hands, now.
Good luck, and God bless.