Money is his weapon of choice

  • Article by: THOMAS LEE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2011 - 9:10 AM

Venture capitalist Tony Miller prescribes an attack of radical change to reform the nation's health care system ... and he backs it up with money.

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markkallAug. 17, 08 6:03 PM

Mr. Miller has it right. Competitve consumer driven health care which makes the patient responsible for deciding where his or health care needs are best met will help to "fix" health care. Government and HMO decision making and pricing is not in the best interests of the patient. Let the market prevail. Crummy health care providers go by the wayside.

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counterpointAug. 17, 08 6:30 PM

Until healthcare consumers are willing to take care of themselves and not expect health care to provide a "fix" to bad choices it will remain broken. There are many diseases that people cannot prevent, but as a healthcare worker, I see many who are not willing to make the necessary changes. To compare shopping for healthcare to shopping for cars or shoes is not an adequate comparison. A shoe or a car is a thing; healthcare is a service. If you compare to buying a car, the only comparison would be to shop for your body--not a choice we have much control over. Shopping healthcare would be compared to shopping for service for the car. Even that is not exactly the same, because with a car, for a certain model and year, the person providing service knows exactly what is under the hood. People of a certain vintage do not have the same specs under the hood. It is why it is so difficult to quote a fee before a person comes in for healthcare. One good thing can come from comparing healthcare with servicing your car--take care of your body and you will pay less to service it through the years.

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hfnorthAug. 17, 08 6:47 PM

I agree with your thesis to some extent. People do need to take better of their own health and bodies. But a big problem with that, is that too many Americans have a lifetime of bad habits that have taken a toll that often is well beyond repair, and that suddenly adopting a healthy lifestyle becomes an example of too little, too late. A lifetime of smoking, high fat diets, excessive eating of bad foods, and lack of physical exercise, cannot be undone by finding "religion" after 50 or 60 years of passive acceptance of TV ads that proclaimed, "More Doctors who smoke, smoke Camels than any other brand".

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nojusticeAug. 17, 08 7:02 PM

We need Wisconsin's system of Universal Health Care. United Healthcare shows how privatized health care can get screwed up. The CEO, a former Dr., apparently did not know anything about accounting and gave a "I'm stupid" defense when caught with $1 billion of stock options, etc...

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pdxtranAug. 17, 08 7:38 PM

If I'm having a heart attack or a stroke, I'm going to say, "No, take me to Emergency Room A, not Emergency Room B, because they charge less"? How are untrained consumers going to judge whether a testing lab that charges x dollars for a test is cheaper and just as good as or cheaper and shoddier than one that charges 2x? Conservative American corporate types go through all kinds of contortions to avoid what the rest of the world seems to understand, that health care is not a consumer product like TV sets or shoes but often a matter of life and death and always a means of ensuring a nation's well-being. Those who make snide remarks about "people not taking care of themselves" probably haven't lived long enough to know a person who has always eaten right and exercised and still has gotten cancer or heart trouble or a stroke. Even if people have bad habits or risk factors, it is still cheaper to treat them in the early stages in a doctor's office rather than waiting till they have to be carried into the ER on a stretcher.

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tonytecAug. 17, 08 7:39 PM

Consumer driven health care sounds great, but what does it mean for the poor? Poor choices? That will not fly. So you subsidize, or tax the middle. Then what do you have, the middle paying more taxes and getting less health care than the poor, and not able to BUY there way to life like the wealthy. IF all the wealthy truly earned honestly what they had, and the poor got the shaft till they earned their own, sure it'd work. Now, that being said, is reform needed? Sure, but don't just brag up concepts that have no real world proof they work. It's not to say give up on the idea, but seriously, let's not act like it's a better idea because it's hip to complain about current health care.

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hfnorthAug. 17, 08 7:52 PM

I think you might be missing the larger point about consumer driven health care. The largest costs of medical care and treatment do not involve acute medical emergencies. It's the chronic conditions where there is indeed time to shop selectively. Nobody is suggesting that a consumer "shop" while in an ambulance ride with a stroke or heart attack on life support. It's the situations where gastric bypass surgery, colonoscopy, mamograms, and any number of non acute medical conditions exist and one is being treated for a chronic medical condition like asthma or diabetes where one has time to evaluate and make sound financial decisions on cost and quality of health care. Nobody ever died from taking their time on selecting a doctor or clinic to perform a vasectomy.

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pdxtranAug. 17, 08 8:35 PM

many procedures will still be unaffordable for the uninsured or under-insured or for those with sting insurance companies. For most people, being able to pay $10,000 for an operation instead of $20,000 is no bargain. Also, we supposedly have "competition" in the insurance market here and "non-profit" companies, but have you shopped for individual health insurance lately? There isn't so much difference among the options that you'd notice. No other country makes such a sacred cow out of the "free market." I bet most of the advocates of "free market" solutions for health care either work for insurance companies or own stock in them.

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hfnorthAug. 17, 08 8:53 PM

If that remark was directed at me, I'll just set the record straight that I am 68 years old. Is that old enough to have lived long enough? And yes, there are people who do all the right things and still die or become incapacitated. Sometimes from something like a car crash. But my 37 year old son is a health fanatic and never has experienced any chronic or acute health problems. Lucky? Perhaps. But he has not tempted the grim reaper by smoking, boozing it up, or having poor dietary habits. His occupation depends on staying healthy. He must take a physical every year from a flight surgeon and pass it in order to keep his job as an airline pilot. Anecdotal? Yes. But his life style has contributed to not becoming a patient for chronic health problems and expensive medical treatment.

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pfbramAug. 17, 0810:23 PM

Another example of socialism for the rich (big oil gets wars, nuclear gets plants, banks get bailouts, big bombs get black budgets), capitalism for the poor. The risks are socialized, the profits are privatized. I have a hard time believing our system will improve if someone other than a doctor or nurse takes more of my money -- money that I don't really have to give either. In fact, there's a fundamental philosophical problem about profiting on people's suffering. I'm of the opinion, and history will bear me out -- even in a country like ours, still in the stone ages -- that access to health care will eventually be seen as a fundamental right. Indeed, if our politicians weren't so hostile toward the poor/working/middle-class, they'd right now be signing a new amendment to the US Constitution, stating exactly that.

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