Lately, I’ve been listening to debates going on in Congress, in the media, and among friends about the topic of our healthcare system in the United States. As you know, the Republicans have been vowing and voting to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for 7 or 8 years now. However, even with both the Legislative and Executive branches of government now in Republican hands, they still seem embarrassingly unprepared to right the problem that they have decried for so long.
Although, between the current Republican and Democratic approaches, I think the Republican one is crueler, in this blog, I am not going to take sides one way or the other. I think it is all too apparent that, regardless which political party is in power, American healthcare is:
- Expensive–both from overpricing and from over-usage
- Full of improper incentives to overuse technology and other services
- Dependent on prescription drugs, which themselves are overpriced
- Focused too much on illness rather than wellness
- Fragmented and duplicative
- Overly influenced or controlled by special interest groups
Instead, I’d like to point out why neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will ever be successful in their goals if their overall thinking about health doesn’t change.
I worked in the healthcare industry both directly and indirectly for quite a few years, first as part of senior management at a Blue Cross & Blue Shield plan and later as a business consultant with many clients in healthcare, including a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), several hospitals, a commercial insurer, and several doctors’ groups. Even after retiring from that work, I have watched developments closely because of my interest in the field. I have seen the myriad problems from the inside.
In addition, I have had to “work the system” myself as a consumer for my own family and as a fiduciary for my father with respect to Medicare, the government’s Prescription Drug Program, and the Veterans Administration benefits program. It has been a nightmare, to put it bluntly.
While I think that everyone should be able to get care when they are sick, my experience convinces me that big bureaucracy makes any effort to actually care for people or help them pay for that care worse, not better. I am equally convinced that the system is fatally flawed in several ways, that no amount of “market forces,” “free choice” or “greater accessibility” will redeem. So, I think both the Democrats and Republicans have it wrong.
My worldview, inspired by Seth, influences my thoughts on this matter. However, as Seth always instructed his readers to do, I have tested my beliefs for myself and examined them with an open mind. Nonetheless, I try to remember philosopher, Jacob Neddleman’s, timeless advice: “You should be open-minded but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
Although I have had my thoughts on this matter for years, they were just a farrago of ideas in my mind—until recently. I just read a new book by an author, Amit Goswami, whose previous books I liked. This new one is called Quantum Economics: Unleashing the Power of an Economics of Consciousness, which brought all my inchoate thoughts together. In it, Goswami puts forward the idea that scientific materialism (the belief that only physical reality is real) has biased our science, economics, academic research, our ideas about money and careers, and virtually every area of life, and that no amount of economic manipulation can correct the underlying flaw in that worldview. I agree with him.
He identifies the underlying problem as a lack of acceptance that there is more to life than just matter or, to put it another way, to a belief that only things that can be scientifically measured or counted are real. Some people won’t even understand what that criticism means; but we Seth readers are well aware that there are indeed different planes of consciousness.
Of course, denying the existence of all but material or measurable things is ridiculous. We all have feelings and emotions that can’t be measured. We feel an inner vitality and interest in life that can’t be measured. We look for meaning and fulfillment in our lives that can’t be satisfied with just material things. We have values that matter to us that defy quantification. And, most importantly, we all experience love, which is also beyond measurement.
Yet our economic system doesn’t account for any of those things. You won’t find a factor in GDP that assess how much meaning or love is moving around the country at any time. But it clearly does matter, doesn’t it?
How does Goswami’s theory apply to healthcare? Surprisingly, the values that he identifies as missing from our system coordinate nicely with many of Seth’s statements on the subject, which I will address in a moment. Continue reading[..]