Santa Cruz, CA: In 20200326h Day 86: 74 days until June 8th, I discussed measurable features of the universe I’m surfing towards. In this post, I’d like to tap focus on more aspirational features.
The first aspiration is for a world in which everyone is mindful of the fact that we, along with all other life, are all sharing this one precious planet. We all are interconnected and decisions that one of us make have the potential to affect all of us. Humans are also connected to the other life forms on this planet, including viruses which I view as living even though they require a host in order to replicate. Without viruses, it is unlikely any other life would exist. We and all other life forms are also dependent on the features of our planet that we often assume will always be there, such as air to breathe, water to drink, and sunshine to provide just the right amount of energy.
As humans on this planet, our own health is affected by the health of everyone else. The weakest link in our health chain determines the strength of our health chain. If one person contacts a deadly infectious disease, and this disease causes an outbreak on one part of the world, then it has the potential to spread to all parts of the world. Pandemics remind us that in order to keep ourselves healthy, we must think globally and focus on keeping everyone in the world healthy.
The debate we have in the United States over universal health care, and whether health care is a human right, is important and both sides need to get very clear on their positions. The tension between these two positions will enable a solution to emerge. I sense a solution with the following characteristics, specifically for the US health system although it could be in other country as well, if not already:
- Regulated pricing of all health related services, including prescription drugs. The government would negotiate prices with the health care providers to get fixed range pricing. The price range would be perhaps 20% and health care providers would be required to publish their prices online, including where they are in the negotiated range, and not charge greater or less than their published prices. The price range would be adjusted annually, or as needed, in response to supply and demand.
- Prescription drug patents go into a patent pool and drugs covered by patents can be produced by any manufacturer by paying royalties to share among all patent holders in the patent pool.
- Large hospital chains are discouraged by a rising tax on profits of up to 90%. This tax rate would also apply to the salaries above a certain amount, and a value-added-tax on products and services from third-party suppliers.
- Small independent and doctor-owned hospitals would be encouraged. Non-profit operation of these hospitals would be highly encouraged.
- 80% of health care costs would be covered by the government and health care providers would bill the government directly. 20% of health care costs would be the responsibility of the individual. Individuals would be required to purchase insurance to cover all or part of this 20% in the private market.
Pandemics also remind us that regardless of which country we live in, or which culture we practice, we must trust our fellow world citizens and communicate in a real-time and transparent manner. The economic and military saber rattling that was occurring in the universe pre-coronavirus-pandemic is something that we should leave behind and not take with us to the post-coronavirus-pandemic universe. An independent group of infectious disease experts must be allowed access to any place in the world where an infectious disease outbreak occurs. If a country restricts access, then that country should be immediately quarantined off from the rest of the world.
We need a healthy world population in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and reduce the global cost of health care.
We need to live in harmony with the other life forms on our planet.
We need to also respect and have reverence for the non-living entities on our planet – the air, water, and land.