Saving American Lives
Delivering Healthcare Cost-Effectively
Best System? Really?
Supporters of the traditional American healthcare system insist that the system (pre-Obamacare) is the best system in the world. For evidence, they point to the fact that rich and powerful people from around the world come to America for medical treatment. It is well recognized that America offers the best healthcare that money can buy. Yet, not one other country wants to copy the American system. Interesting! Why?
The clue is affordability! It is a $4 trillion question. U.S. healthcare cost per year are approaching that figure. The system still leaves 30 million Americans without coverage, with deadly consequences. Estimated 45,000 Americans die per year because of not having health insurance according to a 2009 Harvard University study.
Wait Times Longer in U.S.! No Way?
Critics of other healthcare systems are quick to point to long wait-times for elective surgery – up to 6-18 months – in Canada or U.K. These critics appear completely oblivious to wait times for Americans without insurance which, in effect, can be even longer -- like until death! The lack of universal coverage then reflects in the overall indicators such as the life expectancy and infant mortality rate, which both lag behind other industrial nations.
When American infant-mortality rate is worse than Cuba’s, and American life-expectancy less than that of most other advanced countries, it is time to make delivery of healthcare a priority like the moonshot project.
American healthcare system has the twin problems of too little and too much -- both undesirable. Too little care for those without insurance and, at the same time, unnecessary wasteful/harmful procedures for others. The political machinery of America is too gummed up by ideology and vested interests to devise an effective healthcare system. Obamacare reduced the ranks of the uninsured, however, the cost remains unsustainably high.
Artificial Intelligence to Design Healthcare? Best!
A cost-effective healthcare can only be designed by thinking outside the box. It can be best designed by employing operations research (management field invented by physicists) and artificial-intelligence computing. The task is to optimize parameters like life-expectancy and infant mortality-rate while minimizing parameters like the cost, unnecessary surgeries, bureaucracy and paper work. Coverage for all Americans (goal stated by President Trump) as well as a lower cost-limit could be included as a requirement.
Cheaper and, simultaneously, better serving healthcare is achievable. We should be open to the possibility that the optimum system, in the end, may turn out to be not an either/or system – either “socialized” or private -- but a combination of a government sponsored universal basic coverage supplemented by optional private insurance.