It’s almost magical how technology is making our lives better.
Thanks to technological advances, we have more ways to communicate than ever before, and more information at our fingertips. Unfortunately, we aren’t allowing technology to advance the way we receive health care services.
While the quality of our health care has gone up significantly because of technology — better screening machines, better drugs, etc. — the delivery of health care remains much the same. Your doctor’s office may have a computer that keeps medical records, but you still get your medical services much the same way, face to face.
Since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the number of people without health insurance has declined, and Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal to subsidize primary care facilities in Idaho may help those still uninsured to see a doctor. However, these so-called “reforms” for our health care system do nothing about costs — how much we spend for health care.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health spending accounts for 17.5 percent of our country’s annual income or GDP, up from 13 percent in 1999. Over the same period, the percentage of our income that goes to all services has stayed about the same, 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
It must be true then that what we spend on most services today is declining. Why? Because technology has made those services easier to access and deliver, thus increasing competition. For example, professional services like tax reporting and legal assistance can all be done online. Technology is making my industry, education, much more competitive and revolutionizing the way we deliver our services.
The same is not true for health care.
If policy makers want to see real improvements in health care, they must reform the many rules preventing you and me from accessing medical services electronically. Telemedicine will go far to increase access and lower costs, but it only works if you also ease the rules and restrictions medical practitioners face trying to get certified in the state.
Technological advancements continue to improve medicine, but they haven’t improved medical services because government rules and regulations unnecessarily restrict supply. Government subsidies for insurance or primary care services won’t bring about real health care reform. We need more competition in health care services.
Let technology work its magic.