Better Health Funding
In a brief format with supporting graphics and data, Better Health Funding describes a comprehensive and innovative plan to provide all Americans access to affordable quality care while improving health and lowering costs. Plan participation would be voluntary, but the benefits and savings would provide compelling reasons for both providers and consumers to participate.
Today, our health expenditures and the ways we fund care deplete household resources, dominate government budgets, and weaken our economy, yet leave most Americans underserved and fail to address continuing causes of illness, injury, and disability in America. A better funding system would prompt action to address causes, introduce administrative efficiencies, encourage competitive pricing and preventative care, incentivize consumer actions that reduce costs, and hold key decisionmakers accountable for their choices. Such a plan would create substantial savings for both consumers and governments while strengthening local economies and supporting care providers with fair and reliable compensation for services.
For a quick overview of the Better Health Funding Plan, please see the attached book excerpts. Or click here to order a print or electronic copy of the book. Thanks for your interest!
Better Health Funding began about 15 years ago when I decided to undertake “a little background research” in preparation for writing a brief letter about health care to one US senator, who is now long retired. The inquiry grew to include not only a wide range of current US health care topics, but also some historic, archeological, and comparative system studies. That background work helped to shape the ideas presented here, among them the most basic conclusion: Health care is about taking good care of each other, and it requires taking actions and making choices that enable us to do so. Across a lifetime, no one survives or thrives solely on the strength of good genes or good fortune or good hygiene. It requires a community of purposeful and responsible endeavor. We depend on many others for our safety, access to clean air and potable water, healthy food, safe structures, timely emergency response, helpful information, and, when needed, medical attention, deep expertise, and continuing care. Being well educated gives one an edge, being affluent helps, as does good luck. But our best strategy—long long ago, historically, and ever more so as our exploding population challenges Earth’s life support systems—is always our collective and comprehensive attention to the wellbeing and foreseeable needs of everyone.
The other big take-away from a wide view of health care is that how we fund care really matters. Care funding concerns the marshalling of resources to secure the means to meet our care needs. Too little funding, of course, means too little care, which in turn triggers the downward spiral of unmet need, that leads to greater need, that metastasizes into chronic need and inevitable disability and ever-greater inadequacy of available funding. But it is not enough to pay the bills. A viable, sustainable, and equitable means of paying for care requires that sourcing resources takes account of the sources themselves—their capacity to pay and their capacity to make choices and take actions that begin a virtuous cycle of improving health and lowering costs.
Today our patchwork sourcing of health care funding accomplishes neither. The health care needs of tens of millions of American families are not being met, even as costs escalate inexorably and innumerable opportunities to improve health and lower costs are overlooked. Our funding strategies deliver the most expensive care and the worst results in the developed world. The extractive plunder of household income and the growing dependence on government largesse are failed funding strategies. The middle class is exhausted, literally depleted of its discretionary spending capacity. Our state and federal governments are defunding other priorities (and shifting burdens to future generations) to meet their current health care commitments.
To do better, we must be smarter, and especially more strategic. With an understanding that health and survival depend on a community commitment and that resourcing funding requires a sustainable system (not plunder and defunding of other priorities), the Better Health Funding Plan combines new system efficiencies with synergistic strategies that engage the entire community—from family and local decisionmakers to the federal government—and requires of none of them more than they can reasonably afford, while simultaneously incentivizing each to make ever better decisions that will improve health and lower costs.
I am a graduate of Carleton College and Creighton University School of Law. My background includes both private and corporate practice of law and sundry small business endeavors. Currently retired in Minnesota, I am pursuing ongoing interests in health care reform, sustainable urban development, climate change action—and prairie plant gardening and writing. Better Health Funding is my first book publication.
– B.D. McKendry