Health Care

Healthcare is big business

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Healthcare is big business and getting even bigger. I’m interested, since as a “boomer,” I will likely be up for lots of healthcare costs in the future. Luckily, I’m healthy at the moment and dealing with only minor health issues (knees hurt, cholesterol is problematic and such). Yet, despite reasonable planning, I know that a catastrophic medical problem for either me or my spouse could easily prove financially disastrous.

At the time of this writing, medical facilities are the 34th most profitable industry in the country and health insurance companies are the 35th most profitable. I’m not sure where YOUR business is in that profitability measure, and you may be wildly profitable. Yet I’m not sure I can justify the cost of providing healthcare for employees in most small businesses. Healthcare premiums are up 130% since the year 2000. Many of the companies with which I work are severely challenged by the increase in the cost of healthcare and their employees keep looking at a reduction in spendable income since their portion of the healthcare for their families keeps increasing. So what are we going to do to solve this problem?

Well, I’m not sure I trust the federal government to get this right. When you look at the amount of lobbying money that is being spent by the healthcare industry to put politicians in their pocket, I’m not sure we citizens and small business owners will ever get any relief. Two things are becoming clear: we need to change the system, and the industry is fighting the proposed changes – and that can’t be good for us.

Insurance and healthcare is largely invisible to us. If you get a statement from your insurance company and/or the hospital, it is very likely you will not be able to understand the documents. They are filled with codes and what I believe is language that can only be described as “purposeful obfuscation.” Possibly the only thing that is more obfuscating than those documents, or at least as difficult for lay persons to understand, is the “America’s Affordable Healthcare Act of 2009.” Have you read it? – – – Me neither!

So what choice do we have? It seems to me we have to either go with the devil we know – Insurance Companies that are and will always want to be highly profitable, or the devil we also know – the government which has never really been in touch with small business, and I mean either party. It doesn’t matter, the Republicans are every bit as bad as the Democrats when it comes to business. In fact, the case can be made that based on GDP, business actually does better under Democratic administrations – look at the data before you jump in my in-basket.

I want to just throw up my hands and give up on this – it seems too complicated and too much work to really find out what’s for real. Instead, I will make the effort to find out as much as I reasonably can and still run my business. This much I know – we can’t let healthcare continue on the present path. Healthcare costs are rising so fast that they are threatening our economy. Fully one third of the costs are “waste.” Waste being defined as unnecessary tests, unnecessarily paying for patented drugs, etc. So I’m for change, I guess. It just remains to be determined how that change will manifest in our businesses and our economy.

What’s your thought? Do you really trust the healthcare industry? Do you trust the government more? Do you not trust either, and if so, which is the lesser evil in your mind?