A New Paradigm
We are interested in changing the conversation about healthcare. We are making an exploration into the economics of Medicine, the lack of free market competition in Medicine, the inability of consumers (patients) to choose the form of healthcare that is best for them due to constraints of insurance companies and the monopoly of mainstream Medicine.
We are not against mainstream Medicine. We want to explore how the paradigm of healthcare might change for the better in the United States. With that in mind, we are considering the following:
- U.S. citizens can be fearful of anything labeled “socialized” as it brings with it a sense of losing freedom and independence. However, most of us don’t realize that we have lost a great deal of freedom with the monopolization of healthcare by mainstream Medicine.
- There are other healthcare options that many people would choose if their insurance covered these forms of healthcare. Healthcare systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture and herbs) and Homeopathy have a solid research base and a history of successful treatment outcomes.
- The best form of healthcare in the United States would give freedom of choice and an integration of all forms of healthcare. We envision centers of healthcare in which individuals would be treated by an integrated health team of medical doctors, acupuncturists, homeopaths, herbalists, massage therapists, nutritionists, mental health counselors, and practitioners of other viable health enhancing modalities. Insurance would cover all of these options. These treatment centers would be both outpatient clinics and hospitals.
- Free market healthcare would make billing and payment a transparent process. The consumer would know exactly what is being purchased, all of the potential outcomes (true informed consent), and the exact out-of-pocket cost. This would be true of office visits, procedures, and hospitalizations.
- Centralized records would be kept that would, over time, show clearly which forms of healthcare are working best for specific health issues. These centralized records would be available to the public (without any identifying patient information).
- The emphasis of healthcare would shift from disease care to preventive care. As long as practitioners make money for disease care, the incentive is connected to disease rather than to health. Therefore, “well visits” would be incorporated into the consumer’s health plan and would involve such things as nutrition counseling, massage therapy, labwork, exercise instruction (e.g. weights, yoga, qiqong, cardio, etc.) and maintenance acupuncture. Insurance would cover well visits.
- Pharmaceutical companies would no longer be allowed to advertise directly to consumers. Their marketing activities would be directed to the individuals responsible for writing prescriptions: medical doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and dentists. These practitioners would make informed decisions about medication based on research funded only by conflict-free research institutions with no financial interest in the outcome of the research. Educational activities for prescribing practitioners would not be done by pharmaceutical representatives, but by representatives of conflict-free research institutions.
We understand that the above represents an enormously complex set of changes. We are simply beginning the conversation.
We understand that there are extremely powerful entities with extraordinarily large sums of money who will work tirelessly to see that the current medical monopoly remains in place. We have observed that many times those who advocate mightily for capitalism and free markets are those who have enough money to sway outcomes to their liking. This is not a true democracy but a democracy that can be bought by those with the most money.
William M. Wentworth, Ph.D.
Professor, Clemson University
Bill is a sociologist and the author of six books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. One of Dr. Wentworth’s specialties is medical sociology. His new book, Medical Culture & Medical Error (working title), will be available in 2016.
You can reach Bill at wwentworth@RethinkingMedicine.net.
Carlene M. Wentworth, Ph.D.
Carlene has a doctorate in health psychology and has been a psychotherapist for 25 years. She addresses the biological aspects of mental health and is a strong advocate for “whole health mental health.” She is also an advocate for addressing the mental and emotional aspects of physical health.
Carlene is a musician and songwriter. You can find her songs at www.carlene.net.
You can reach Carlene at cwentworth@RethinkingMedicine.net.