If you’re over 30, you probably remember that ever frustrating but addictive puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube. You see, everyone starts to solve the Rubik’s Cube the same way – a side at a time. So, after some practice, you might be able to solve for one of the six colors. OK – now onto the second color, and somewhere along the way, you realize that your efforts to solve additional sides are messing up the original side you’ve already fixed.
The problem is you can’t solve the Rubik’s Cube with tunnel vision by looking at a portion of the whole. There are four quintillion wrong combinations of the cube (really!) and one one right answer. Only with the entire, six-sided puzzle in mind and a systematic approach can you ever dream of solving for all sides simultaneously.
I’m afraid that the largest, most complex healthcare system in history, that of the United States today, is a bit like that Rubik’s Cube. With all the fervor and confidence of someone picking up the Rubik’s Cube for the first time, our government leaders have dove into solving for a single side – making sure everyone is covered by requiring them by law to buy private insurance. A noble accomplishment, but far short of complete.
What about the other sides that are still jumbled. We could control costs through government mandates and pricing controls, but that will sap motivation of entrepreneurial organizations to spend millions researching cures for diseases. We could ensure that everyone has all the care needed to control their illnesses, but that wouldn’t encourage a healthy lifestyle in the first place. With growing federal government control over insurance companies, how it it possible to not politicize ethical issues, or keep healthcare from becoming another “Department of Motor Vehicles” with medicine.
Just like an elated ten-year-old who realized that he solved a single side of the Rubik’s Cube, we’re going to watch Obama and Pelosi squeeze every political drop out of this victory. But – keep in mind, there’s five sides to go.