How You and I will Rescue the Economy

I have been fiddling with this post for awhile – I half write it – don’t like it – add and delete. You know where I am coming from. Well, I had a dream in the springtime of 2009. I dreamt that I died with no money in my pocket. The last words I heard were from my insurance advocate who said directly to the doctor standing next to me, “He’s out of money – we have it all. Now, we can pull the plug.” And I awoke to an electrical storm and my cat looking up asking me for breakfast. This dream revealed to me how we are going to save the American economy. I won’t like it one bit. Neither will you.

Premise #1: the most vibrant capitalist economy depends heavily on three elements:

  1. a vast marketplace selling desirable and affordable goods and services;
  2. everybody spending their income primarily on domestically manufactured goods and on a variety of locally provided services;
  3. enterprises exporting every good and service possible to other economies.

Every time you buy an imported good or service, you contribute directly to another economy, and to your own only to the degree that your economy adds value by bringing that good or service to you so that you can buy it the way you want it. That added value can be high if an imported good is designed, developed, managed, sold and serviced by a local company such as Apple, but Apple is the exception, and not the rule…

Premise #2: you can’t very easily import healthcare – that service is provided to you directly by a local service provider – a doctor or nurse who examines you, runs tests and supervises your care, or a surgeon, an office or hospital, a testing laboratory minutes or hours away, and by pharmaceuticals that are sold locally. Healthcare is a good contributor to a local economy.

Premise #3: healthcare administration, medicines and equipment are all easily exported. A bill for services can just as easily come from Timbuktu as from New York City. You should expect a heavy emphasis in these areas in our future national economy.

Premise #4: the healthcare industry accounts for about one-sixth of our national economy today, and that portion is forecast to double over the next 10 years – and continue to grow and become more globally focused.

Premise #5: entitlement systems are only sustainable into the long term if individuals on the whole contribute more over their lifetimes that they withdraw from those systems. The Medicare and Social Security systems are likely to change in some significant ways to demand greater rates of contribution over longer periods of time with shorter periods of benefit payout.

The longer you live, the longer you can work – and consume healthcare. The longer you work, the more you pay into entitlement systems and the less you withdraw from these systems.  Many of us are likely to work into our 70’s – like it or not.

Healthcare’s mission may well evolve to this objective:

Prolong our Working Lifetimes.

Entitlement systems may also evolve to incorporate this directive:

Eliminate prolonged, lingering deaths by requiring Living Wills for all system participants.

So, if we all spend every dime we have on our healthcare before we die, you and I may very well help rescue our faltering economy – we’ll be doing “our part”, yes sir! And when one runs out of money, well, then I guess you can die – and die quickly when that time comes. It may require an entire country of exuberant healthcare consumers who spend more on their healthcare than on food and shelter to buoy our future national economy. I can’t for the life of me think of a sustainable alternative cure for our current economic woes as we flounder, offshore manufacturing and jobs, and underinvest in many other industries.

Lest I forget – what I want from my healthcare providers:

  • a focus on long term good health and high quality of life
  • a focus on cures and not chronic illness management
  • a promptly delivered, cost-effective and efficient service
  • a statement of services and costs before service is provided
  • a “warranty” – my satisfaction guaranteed, or my money back
  • an ombudsman to resolve consumer complaints, not a lawyer

Likely? Probably not in my lifetime.

And who will refuse to purchase a product or service that will immediately extend their life by even a few quality moments? No one with money in their pockets… Until it is all gone, of course…

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