Personal finance writer Scott Burns offers good healthcare advice, too

Scott Burns is one of the best-read personal finance writers in the United States. I recently came across some thoughts on healthcare Scott shared at AssetBuilder.com, an investment site. Scott is chief investment strategist for AssetBuilder, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Scott received the following opinion/query from one of his readers:

I believe we should have a nationalized health insurance system based on the Canadian/French Health Care System. Both countries have longer life expectancies, pay less for their health care, and express greater satisfaction with their systems, in polls, than ours. As to “market based” plans, which are put forth as a solution, these would not help people such as me as I have a pre-existing health condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth. I inherited this condition at birth, and I do not feel that it was part of my “life-style” choices. Other than health plan insurance executives, wouldn’t this country be better off as a whole with the Canadian/French Health Care System?

To this, Scott replied:

From what I have read, many of the unfavorable U.S. vs. other nation comparisons have limited value because the comparison is of a very mixed population group in the U.S. with more uniform populations in other nations. Others note that the broader range of income differences in the United States also contributes to our relatively poor showings.

My personal belief is that many of our problems in healthcare delivery could be reduced if actions were taken to restore healthcare to a profession rather than a business. Many, perhaps most, of the people who decide to be doctors or nurses do so because they have a strong desire to help and to serve, not because they are primarily driven by money. Yet healthcare is increasingly about the money, driven by both government and insurance. At the risk of sounding ludicrously idealistic, I believe we could do wonders if we could only change the wretched mindset that surrounds the practice of medicine today.

I couldn’t agree with this more. But unless you find a way to greatly reduce the roles of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and hospital systems, I’m not sure how you make the change that Scott is seeking. The only way you can do that is through government intervention.

Unfortunately, none of the presidential candidates — who would be squashed if they proposed an “anti-corporate” healthcare plan — offer an adequate solution to this problem.

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Comments (1)

Lyle G. Bohlman MD

Scott, of course speaks with wisdom on this subject. I have practiced medicine for more than 30 years, my father and older brother were physicians and I have seen the slow transformation of a profession moving inexorably a from patient centered service orientation to a disease centered cost orientation with all the attendant alienation of the patients we ostensibly “serve” being left in the wake of the profit motif that by necessity drives business. I think it is too late for our country… I read with amusement letters from British physicians in the British Medical Journal campaigning to prevent the EU’s allowing Direct to Consumer drug advertising. I do hope they are successful. Doctors in England may not be wealthy, but they are professional and patient centered.

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