Universal health care has been the hot topic in the past couple of weeks. Since the climate change bill passed through the House of Representatives, focus has shifted to the health care front. Is it possible that President Obama’s proposal for universal health care could be good for the environment, but bad for your business? Let’s take a closer look at the effect on the environment.
Pros for the Environment
1. Less Paperwork – President Obama has touted universal health care’s ability to eliminate inefficiencies in the current system. This would lead to less duplicate paperwork, including insurance forms and claim approvals. Less paperwork is always a good thing for the environment. Anyone who has had to fill out HIPAA paperwork every time they go to the doctor’s office knows how much paper is wasted in a medical setting.
2. Robust Use of Technology– Universal health care would use a centralized database to make it easier to retrieve medical information and make better diagnoses. This means misdiagnoses and treatment mistakes would decrease. This leads to lower energy cost and less use of resources. If doctors fix medical problems the first time, medical resources are conserved.
3. Focus on Practicing Medicine
– Doctors spend much of their time dealing with insurance. Whether it is taking lengthy classes on the different types of insurance, fighting insurance companies over regulations, or paying more in malpractice insurance, doctors cannot always focus on practicing medicine. More often than not, doctors are practicing defensively, so they do not get sued. This leads to more tests being run and more referrals to specialists that are sometimes unnecessary. This inefficiency leads to higher energy costs from the use of more X-Ray and MRI machines. It also leads to even more paper waste
because of their need to cover their derrieres with a lengthy paper trail.
4. Preventive Medicine-Suddenly having access to health care, millions of people, will go to the doctors more often. This means people will go when they first feel symptoms, instead of waiting for a catastrophe to strike that lands them in the hospital. With more preventive measures, this will lead to a long term savings for hospitals. They will be able to treat a person with heart disease early on, so the massive heart attack(that costs the hospital a lot of money to care for) will be prevented.
So it looks like some of the measures of universal health care could help the environment, but what about businesses? Look out for Part II that will cover the effect on businesses.