Wellpoint, the largest health insurance company in the United States, and parent company of Anthem Blue Cross of California, is partnering with the XPrize to develop a solution to the problem of ever-increasing medical costs; rising numbers of uninsured people; and medical providers claiming to receive too little payment. The Health Care X Prize will develop criteria to evaluate solutions to these problems; Wellpoint will test the solution in one of the states in which they have a health insurance plan; and, the winner will receive about $10 million.
This is one of the most intractable problems facing the U.S. and the world. Everyone wants better health. More medicine equals better health and a longer life. The huge middle class and upper middle class populations in advanced, industrialized countries have the resources to spend on better health and greater longevity. It is only natural that these cultures spend more and more on health care. Solving this problem deserves more than $10 million!!
Let’s see… everyone wants immediate access to the highest quality medical care. Nobody really wants to pay for the medical care – as an example, just a few years ago grocery workers went on strike for over 6 months in California because their co-payment went from $5 for a doctors office visit to $10 per visit. Yet, I suspect many of the people striking over the unfairness of paying $10 to see a doctor pay much more than that for cell phone service, cable television, and a few cafe lattes each month. No one is striking over the high cost of these items – but ask someone to pay $10 to see a doctor and you have a problem.
So, everyone wants health insurance; nobody wants to pay for it; everyone wants someone else to pay for it; and, no matter who pays for it; health insurance is expensive. Yes, the XPrize is needed to solve this problem. For a previous article on this problem, see No Matter Who Pays for it Medical Care and Health Insurance is Expensive.
Here is my solution to the problem: Pay doctors and hospitals to encourage people to change their behavior to treat illness – rather than prescribing medicine. Make people pay when they over eat; over consume alcohol; and don’t exercise enough. Make parents pay when they give their children poor food and they end up obese at a young age. Removing the excess fat from our system – and the attendant health consequences would drastically reduce the cost of medical care. If only truly sick people received care – and all others were able to prevent illness though healthier life styles, we would reduce the cost of health care.