Is There a Private Sector Solution to U.S. Health Care Mess?

[Editor’s Note:  The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway (“Berkshire”), or any other entity referenced. Edina Realty is a subsidiary of Berkshire.]

No, I don’t know how to reform the United States’ tangled, inefficient, and spectacularly expensive health care system.

But, I know how I would go about doing it.

First, I’d start from scratch.

Today’s “legacy” health care system (to be charitable) is no more susceptible of being re-worked into a cutting edge, world-leading model than a horse could be retrofitted to compete with an internal combustion automobile.

Next, I’d keep any pilot program out of the clutches of the federal government, where it could be suffocated, warped, or kidnapped by Congress and/or the President, and inevitably turned into a political football used to further someone’s demagogic agenda (whatever it may be).

The Ultimate NGO**

Instead, I’d assemble a consortium of the nation’s leading companies, whose combined 1.2 million employees represented both a prime beneficiary of any to-be-designed health care system, and a ready test market cum focus group for same.

Then I’d make sure that the corporate sponsors were committed to using the latest technology — indeed, were technological innovators themselves.

Next, I’d make sure that the inevitable trial-and-error, learning curve stage(s) were driven by empirical data (and lots of it!), with adjustments based on scientific best practices, and disciplined by rigorous cost-benefit calculations.

I’d also want a secure, long-term and patient source of funding, that insisted on oversight and accountability — but not ever-rising quarterly profits.

Ideal CEO

Finally, to head it all, I’d want a wise and gifted physician, thinker, public policy expert, and — if possible — renowned writer and communicator.


Then you missed the news last week that Atul Gawande, who neatly fits that profile (and more), was chosen to head the health care initiative jointly conceived by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase (placeholder name: “A-B-C,” for “Amazon-Berkshire-Chase”).

Simple as “A-B-C?” Probably Not

Unlike the Manhattan Project, Gawande and his team will not be able to operate in a cloak of privacy, nor will they have the imperative (thankfully) of tipping the balance of an in-progress world war.

Of course, also unlike the Manhattan Project, Gawande’s mandate is all about saving and improving people’s lives.

I can’t wait to see what emerges!

**Non-Governmental Organization.

See also, “Being Mortal”: Lessons for Doctors & Patients ” and Realtors & Clients.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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