o.d. to o.d.

The Status of Health Care in America: It’s Time for Change

o.d. to o.d.

The Status of Health Care in America: It’s Time for Change

Maybe it is time for us all to get emotional and start paying attention to our economy’s single biggest cost.

Chief Optometric Editor

What will health care look like in the next decade? How will it affect the student doctors who graduate in 2014? How it will affect my children, in terms of both their health and finances? And like most of us, I wonder how it will affect my business, family and personal health.

Before we answer, let’s first evaluate where we are. The United States ranks 37th in overall healthcare performance, just ahead of Slovenia, says the World Health Care Organization. We rank 24th in life expectancy, about the same as Cuba, yet we spend 20 times more on health care, says the UC Atlas of Global Inequality. Even more disconcerting, we rank first, in cost per capita, in adult obesity and mortality and overall cost.

Surprising response

What continues to surprise me though, are the well-educated Americans who don’t believe there is a problem. It is easier to pretend there is no problem or “pass it on” to the next generation rather than confront and solve the real issues.

Then again, maybe it is time people get emotional and start paying attention to the single biggest drain on our national and personal economies. Maybe then we can take responsibility and create positive, meaningful change in our healthcare system.

No one really knows whether the current healthcare initiatives will work. In optometry, there are questions about the viability of stand-alone vision plans. And, we are all acutely aware of federal initiatives, including HIPAA, PQRI, e-Rx, Meaningful Use, the looming ICD-10s and their effects on our operations.

Promises yet to materialize

Many of the promises of healthcare reform, such as populations of newly insured that would serve as business builders, have yet to materialize. Adults of all ages remain, practically speaking, uninsured. Many have felt the negative impact of increased insurance deductibles, higher co-pays or reduction in paid hours by their employer to comply with full-time benefit mandates. Employers have also felt the increased financial and administrative burdens.

Though I don’t profess to have all the answers, we face a new reality where to stay profitable, we must:

▸ Increase our efficiency.

▸ Become better business people (or hire people who are).

▸ Become more desirable to those who forego managed visioncare plans to participate in a self-directed visioncare plan (cash-pay patients).

▸ Embrace our retail side.

▸ Exceed expectations in every aspect of our operations.

The time is now

The time has come: We must become active participants in healthcare reform. Don’t wait on your profession, sociopolitical groups or Washington. Real change starts today with the person you see in the mirror. Answer to that next generation who inherits our decisions. Start asking questions. We all have some choices to make! OM