My position on healthcare can be boiled down to a simple policy question, and method of answering it. Should it be possible to die of starvation in America? The answer: if it's possible for the answer to be 'no,' it's not okay for the answer to be 'yes.' Everything beyond that builds upon that foundation -- harm we can avoid, we should avoid. Rebecca Onie has a great TED talk about her program, Health Leads, that seeks to deal with that basic level of care. She encourages her audience to seek to recontextualize the hospital waiting room, as a place not to wait in when you're sick, but a place to get and to stay healthy.
I love the way she talks about healthcare in this talk, especially at the end --
I believe that at the end of the day when we measure our healthcare, it will not be by the diseases cured, but by the diseases prevented. It will not be by the excellence of our technologies or the sophistication of our specialists, but by how rarely we needed them. And most of all, I believe that when we measure healthcare, it will be, not by what the system was, but by what we chose it to be.
I hear a lot of talk about how we need more doctors. How we need people to funnel into the profession, how important it is that we keep them here, in America. I like the argument that we should need less -- that we ought to be trying to minimize the number of doctors necessary, replacing them with much less demanding jobs that basically entail offering people help to stay healthy.
This talk is a great example of one of the ways in which our common sense view of healthcare is best served by simply reversing it.